While Cinco de Mayo would usually be celebrated with big parties, parades, music and dancing to commemorate the victory of Mexican troops over the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla, things are looking a little different this year. Nonetheless, one element of the celebrations can still go ahead at home thanks to Mexico’s national spirits: tequila and mezcal.
Tequila – which is only produced from the blue agave plant – is already a hugely popular spirit, but mezcal is now on a steep upward trend, with distillers producing small, artisanal batches from many different varieties of agave. The majority are produced from the espadin agave, but there are dozens of permitted varieties including madrecuixe, tepeztate, and tobala, which are becoming more visible – though still produced in tiny quantities.
Our spirits consultant Joel Harrison has put together this easy Mexican-inspired cocktail recipe: the Mezcal Margarita. He’s using Ilegal Mezcal made in Oaxaca, Mexico (and originally smuggled across the border in 2003 to be sold in a bar in Guatemala, where mezcal wasn’t yet a legal export), but there’s a huge range of mezcals out there to choose from.
Make Joel Harrison’s Mezcal Margarita
- 50ml mezcal
- 25ml lime juice
- 25ml triple sec
- 1 tsp agave syrup
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice. Shake well, strain, and serve either straight up in a coupe or over ice in a tumbler. Garnish with a circle of lime.