Mexico-Inspired Cocktail Recipes That Aren't Margaritas

It's that time of year again. That time of year yet again when Americans seem to bring out all the stops for a holiday that isn't their own. That's right, I'm talking about Cinco de Mayo. Mexico's Cinco de Mayo, such as Ireland's St. Patrick's Day, seems to be one of those holidays that Americans get as excited about as much as the country that that holiday originated in. Any reason to throw a party and don a sombrero, right?

It only seemed appropriate then, however, to publish a Cinco de Mayo cocktail post. However, this is a little bit different since I'm not featuring a single margarita recipe. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good margarita (on the rocks, no salt, with Grand Marinier instead of triple sec). However, there are a lot of great mezcal and tequila cocktail recipes that aren't a margarita. So today I feature some of my favorites, as well as some favorites of other bars and restaurants.


The Paloma is one of the easiest cocktail recipes to make and you really can't mess this tequila cocktail recipe up. Simply add the tequila and fresh lime juice and top with grapefruit soda, in which case I use Bundaberg, which is one of my favorite cocktail mixers. This is also an easy one to make for a party. I simply add the tequila and lime juice to a pitcher and set the grapefruit soda aside for people to add on their own. Some traditional paloma recipes may call for sugar, but I think the sweetness of the soda makes it sweet enough. You can also replace the tequila with mezcal if you want a smokier flavor.

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • Sparkling grapefruit soda (Bundaberg, in this case)
  • Grapefruit for garnish

Mezcal Mule

If the Paloma is the easiest cocktail recipe to make then the Mezcal Mule is the second-easiest cocktail to make. It's a rendition of the famous cocktail from the vodka boom of the mid-1900s, the Moscow Mule, except it replaces the vodka with mezcal. Other than using a Mexico spirit, there's really nothing Mexican about this cocktail. Simply add all the ingredients together and garnish with a lime. If you want to stick to the tradition of the Moscow Mule cocktail, then serve it in a copper mug (as pictured here by Steve McClanahan from Flickr).

  • 2 oz. mezcal
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. ginger beer

Big Smoke, Blind Barber, Los Angeles

This mezcal cocktail comes from one of my Los Angeles bar haunts, the Blind Barber, and is part of their new spring menu they just released. For the apple cinnamon simple syrup, bring equal parts sugar and water to boil and then add a few apple peels and cinnamon sticks to it and let it sit for 45 minutes to an hour. Add the mezcal, syrup, lemon juice, and bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with thyme.

  • 2 oz. mezcal
  • .5 oz. apple cinnamon syrup
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Thyme

Jale Berry, Herringbone, San Diego

  • 2 oz. infused strawberry and jalapeño Tequila
  • .75 oz. agave nectar
  • .75 oz. Lime juice

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice with a salted rim. Garnish with a sliced jalapeño or strawberry.

Dragon Mezcal, Fairmont Mayakoba, Mayakoba, Mexico

  • 1.5 oz. mezcal
  • 1/4 Piece dragon fruit
  • .75 oz. Cranberry Juice
  • .5 oz. agave nectar
  • .5 oz. Lemon juice

Muddle dragon fruit in a cocktail shaker. Fill cocktail shaker with ice and rest of the ingredients. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a pice of dragon fruit.