Have you met my new friend, the mezcalita? She’s fun like a margarita, but smoky, spicy and more mysterious. I got to know her this summer on a trip to Mexico City. The mezcalitas varied from restaurant to restaurant, but they were all more orange-forward than your standard limey margarita, with spicy salted rims.
Naturally, I figured out how to make my own mezcalitas when I got back. I discovered a small mezcal selection at a nearby liquor store (right by the tequila) and purchased a mild, mixable mezcal called Vida. I went home and flipped the proportions of citrus juice in my favorite margarita recipe, to make them taste more like orange than lime.
Mezcalitas aren’t complete without a spicy, salty rim around the glass, so I lined mine with either Tajín (a zingy Mexican salt and spice blend that you can find in the Hispanic aisle at the grocery store) or the chili powder and salt combination you see here. I prefer Tajín, since the citric acid packs a sour punch, but chili powder and salt is an easy homemade option.
Up until Mexico City, I had crinkled my nose at Ali’s mezcal drinks and dismissed them as “too smoky.” I’m certainly no mezcal connoisseur yet, but I’m learning. If you’re interested in mezcal, this drink is a great place to start!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 drink
- Category: Cocktail
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Mexican
This fresh mezcalita recipe is made with orange juice, lime juice, and of course, mezcal! It wouldn’t be complete without the spicy, salted rim. Recipe as written below yields 1 cocktail, but you can make two to three at a time in your cocktail shaker.
- For the spicy rim: Tajín Clásico Seasoning or a mix of 2 parts kosher salt and 1 part chili powder
- Lime wedges, for lining the rim and garnish
- 1 ½ ounces mild mezcal (I recommend Del Maguey Vida)
- 2 ounces fresh orange juice
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 3 dashes of orange bitters (optional, for extra orange flavor)
- 1 to 3 teaspoons orange liqueur, simple syrup or agave nectar (optional, if you prefer sweeter drinks—I don’t add any)
- To prepare your glasses: Pour some Tajín (or mix your salt/chili powder) on a small, rimmed plate. Run a wedge of lime around the top of each glass. Dip the top of the glass into the salt blend at a 45-degree angle and roll it from side to side to catch the salt. Add ice cubes to your glass and set it aside.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the mezcal, orange juice, lime juice, orange bitters (if using) and sweetener (if using). Securely fasten the lid and shake well.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared glass and garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy!
Recipe roughly adapted from my skinny margarita recipe.