How to Make a Smoky Margarita

by Thousand Oaks Barrel Co.

There are several ways of making a smoky margarita, like using mezcal instead of tequila, or you can put on a show and use the Foghat Cocktail Smoker.

Several weeks ago we enjoyed a smoky margarita without having to make it. It was a cocktail in a can and was so delicious my wife said: 'We have to learn how to make these.'

How to Make a Smoky Margarita the Easy Way

Looking online, there were lots of recipes for making smoky margaritas, some easier than others. The easiest way of all is simply to use mezcal instead of tequila. Most mezcals are naturally smoky, because of the way they're made.

What is Mezcal?

Mezcal is a spirit made from agave plants in certain areas of Mexico. Technically tequila is a mezcal as it's made from the blue agave, but it has its own specific rules. Mezcals are made from any agave apart from the blue agave. With tequila, the agave hearts, known as piņas, are baked in an oven. With mezcal, they are smoked in a pit in the ground, hence the smoky flavor, although not all mezcals are heavily smoky.

My Easy Smoky Margarita Cocktail Recipe

(Makes 4 glasses)

6 oz mezcal

3 oz triple sec

3 oz lime juice (reduced to 2 oz if using fresh key lime juice)

4 cups ice cubes

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until mushy (to use a technical term). If your mezcal is very smoky, you might want to try equal parts of mezcal and tequila to tone it down a little.

Other Ways to Make a Smoky Margarita

If you don't have any mezcal in hand (and it is harder to come by than tequila) then there are several other ways to make a smoky margarita. With the above basic margarita recipe you could add half a teaspoon of smoked paprika to the blend. You can also mix some paprika with some salt and rim the glass with it, too, for a showier look than salt alone.

Another option, instead of paprika, is to finely chop 2-3 slices of jalapeno and blend that into the mix. Be careful, though, till you know just how hot your jalapenos are. They also add spice as well as a slightly smoky flavor. Instead of the paprika or the jalapeno, you could instead add no more than a quarter teaspoon of chipotle powder to the cocktail. Chipotle is, of course, smoked jalapeno so you get both heat and smoke in your margarita.

How to Make a Smoky Margarita the Fun Way

After a few experiments, we forgot our Smoky Margarita phase and went back to our usual lazy pre-dinner standbys, like Gin and Tonics or Vodka and OJ. Then the Foghat Cocktail Smoker kit arrived.

The obvious first choice to try to make a smoky drink was with a Scottish whisky. I took a Speyburn 10-year-old from Speyside, partly because the bottle was almost gone and there was just enough for a couple of not-so-wee drams, and partly because the whisky was only slightly smoky. The Foghat worked its magic and did something on a par with turning water into wine - it turned a Speyside whisky into more of a peaty whisky from Islay.

Then I had that lightbulb moment - of course, smoky margaritas! I made a fresh batch of our regular margaritas, using the recipe above (but with tequila, of course). I put some fresh wood chips into the Foghat. These were the Whiskey Barrel Oak ones, but I figured they would work just as well. And boy, did they work!

The margaritas were just as good as the ones made with mezcal, and just as good as the canned cocktails that kicked the whole thing off in the first place. It also had me wondering if I could smoke tequila and make my own mezcal? That's for another time, but thanks to the Foghat I can't wait to show friends how to make a Smoky Margarita.

by Mike Gerrard