A Guide to Mezcal: Types, Cocktails, and Mezcal vs Tequila  

Discover the allure of mezcal, Mexico's cherished spirit with its distinctive smoky flavors. Uncover the rich cultural heritage and craftsmanship behind this extraordinary liquor.

For centuries, people have enjoyed mezcal as a traditional Mexican liquor. It differs from tequila, which solely relies on the blue agave plant, as mezcal can be produced from various types of agave. Mezcal boasts a distinctive smoky flavor, making it a favorite among mixologists worldwide, who use it in cocktails or enjoy it straight.

Mezcal originates from Oaxaca, Mexico, and holds deep cultural roots, often associated with celebrations and special occasions. In recent years, it has gained popularity as an artisanal spirit, with small-batch distillers focusing on traditional production methods to craft unique and flavorful mezcals. Whether savored alone or mixed into cocktails, it offers a delicious and versatile taste, showcasing Mexico’s rich cultural heritage.


Espadín: This is the most common type , made from the Espadín agave plant. It has a smoky flavor with hints of citrus and is often used in cocktails.

Tobalá: Made from the Tobalá agave plant, this has a complex flavor profile with notes of chocolate, fruit, and spices. It’s a great choice for sipping on its own.

Arroqueño: Made from the Arroqueño agave plant and has a smoky flavor with hints of vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon. It pairs well with chocolate or spicy foods.

Tepextate: Made from the Tepextate agave plant, this has a unique flavor profile with notes of earth, minerals, and pepper. It’s a great choice for those looking for something different.

Pechuga: Made by adding fruits, nuts, and spices to the distillation process, resulting in a complex flavor profile with notes of sweet and savoury flavours. It’s often enjoyed as a dessert.


Mezcal distillers extract the heart of various agave plant species to create a unique and artisanal spirit. The production process involves harvesting the agave, roasting the piñas, or hearts, of the plant in underground pits to infuse a distinctive smoky flavor, and then crushing the piñas to extract the juice. Natural yeast ferments the juice before distillers perform at least two rounds of distillation in copper stills to achieve the final product. This centuries-old, labor-intensive process preserves the tradition and authenticity of mezcal, propelling its growing popularity worldwide.


Mezcal and tequila exhibit several differences:

Agave: Distillers use different species of agave plants. Distillers make mezcal from any type of agave plant, while they specifically make tequila from the blue Weber agave plant.

Production: Distillers employ distinct methods. They typically use traditional techniques, which involves roasting the agave in underground pits to impart a smoky flavor. In contrast, they usually use modern methods to make tequila, such as steaming the agave.

Region: Distillers produce mezcal in various regions across Mexico, whereas they primarily produce tequila in the state of Jalisco and other regions of Mexico.

Taste: Mezcal has a unique, smoky flavor, whereas tequila tends to have a cleaner taste. People often describe mezcal as having a more complex flavor profile compared to tequila.

Alcohol content: Has a higher alcohol content, ranging from 40-50% ABV, while tequila’s alcohol content can vary between 35-55% ABV.

Serving: People commonly enjoy mezcal neat, without mixers or other ingredients, while they frequently use tequila in cocktails such as margaritas or enjoy it as a shot with salt and lime.


Mezcal can be enjoyed neat, meaning without any mixers or ice, or in cocktails. When drinking mezcal neat, it’s best to sip it slowly and savor the flavors.

If you’re new, you may want to start with a milder variety like Espadin and work your way up to more complex flavors.

When using in cocktails, it can add a unique smoky flavor. Popular cocktails include the Margarita, Negroni, and the Oaxaca Old Fashioned.


Mezcal is a versatile spirit that can be used in a wide variety of cocktails. Here are five delicious mezcal cocktail recipes to try:



  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau or triple sec
  • 1/2 oz agave nectar


Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.



  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 1/2 oz agave nectar
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters


Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.



  • 1 oz mezcal
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • Orange peel, for garnish


Stir together 1 oz mezcal, 1 oz Campari, and 1 oz sweet vermouth in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a chilled glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange peel.

In conclusion, mezcal is a spirit with a rich history and unique characteristics that make it a standout in the world of distilled spirits. From the traditional production process to the distinct flavors and aromas, mezcal offers a complex and rewarding drinking experience. Whether enjoyed neat or in a cocktail,it has something to offer everyone. As the popularity continues to grow, it’s clear that this spirit is here to stay and will continue to delight drinkers for years to come. So, the next time you’re in the mood for a unique and flavorful spirit, give mezcal a try and discover what makes it so special.

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