August 8, 2022

What Is a Mezcalita? Make the Margarita’s Bold, Exciting Cousin

The smoky complexity of Mezcal creates a mouthwatering cocktail when paired with fresh orange, lime, and a spicy Tajin rim.

straining the mezcalita

Sometimes you need a cocktail with some zing to really wake your taste buds, and I'm hear to tell you a Mezcalita might be what you're looking for.

It certainly won't be dethroning the queen of tequila cocktails anytime soon but it's a really tasty alternative to a classic Margarita.

Let's make one!

measuring orange liqueur

The Mezcalita recipe

The Mezcalita is made with: Mezcal (duh), fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, and orange liqueur. Orange bitters and a spicy Tajin rim are welcome additions but can be left out if you prefer.

mezcalita vs. margarita

A classic Margarita uses blanco tequila, lime, agave, and orange liqueur for a more mellow lime based flavor, whereas the Mezcalita has a bolder orange flavor from the mezcal and fresh orange juice.

The Mezcalita is not just a Margarita with mezcal. This recipe uses less base spirit and plenty more fresh citrus juice to help round out the sturdy flavor of mezcal into awesome orange-y goodness.

opening a bottle of mezcal

What is Mezcal?

Just like tequila, mezcal is made in Mexico from the core of agave plants, but there are several key differences.

Mezcal is made using many different varieties of agave (unlike tequila) and instead of being steamed in the cooking process the agave hearts are traditionally roasted in a pit using lava rocks.

The roasting process is often associated with a strong smoky flavor, but similar to Scotch whisky, some mezcals are mild and some have a bold in-your-face kick.

For this recipe I recommend a more mild mezcal such as lllegal Joven, or Burrito Fiestero. If you want to try it with something bold and smoky grab a bottle of Del Meguey Vida.

rimming with Tajin

Rimming the glass

The Mezcalita gets a welcome flavorful kick from a salted rim.

To take things up an extra notch try rimming your glass with Tajin.

It's a blend of dehydrated chili peppers, lime, and salt that is pretty much begging to be paired with lime. It can usually be found in the Mexican section of grocery stores.

Pour a few teaspoons of your Tajin right on a small plate. Then use a wedge of lime to wet the rim of the glass before pressing it into the Tajin so it sticks.

rubbing a rocks glass with lime wedge
sprinkling tajin

do I need Tajin?

You don't have to use Tajin to get that spicy salted rim.

Instead, you could use a combination of coarse salt and chili powder. It will lack a bit of the extra lime kick that Tajin brings, however, you will still have a great drink.

If you want to skip the spice, just go with coarse salt!

orange bitters for the mezcalita

Mezcalita Variations

Simple recipes like the Mezcalita are always an invitation to experiment by adding other flavors.

Try muddling a few pieces of fruit (like raspberries or strawberries) in your cocktail shaker before adding the ice and shaking. Or, try making a spicy version by muddling in a few slices of fresh Jalapeño pepper.

Mezcalita de Pena 

Mezcalita de Pina is a pitcher variation made with pineapple, jalapeños, and cilantro.

Start by grilling 4 spears of fresh pineapple. Once cooled, muddle the pineapple in a large pitcher with a small handful of fresh cilantro, and 1/4 - 1/2 of a fresh sliced jalapeño. Add 6x the ingredients from the recipe listed below along with ice, stir, and serve.

the mezcalita


Bold mezcal, sweet orange, tart lime and a spicy rimmed glass come together beautifully in the Margarita's smoky cousin.


  • 1 1/2 oz Mezcal
  • 1 1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice
  • 3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Orange Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters - optional
  • Tajin - for rimming
  • Lime Wedge - for rimming


  • Rim your rocks glass by rubbing the juice from a lime wedge along the edge of your glass before pressing it into the Tajin
  • Add all the liquid ingredients to your cocktail shaker
  • Add ice and shake hard before straining into a rocks glass with ice


You can use any mezcal you like from something mild like Illegal Joven, to bold and smoky like Del Meguey Vida.
The bitters and spicy rim will add some extra flavor to the cocktail but are both optional.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 1 drink
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!

Pin the Mezcalita

mezcalita pin

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