These smoky, tart and sweet Mescal Margaritas, made with Cuantro, freshly squeezed lime and orange juice have a salted rim with a surprising ingredient! You can whip up two of these delicious cocktails in less than 10 minutes making them perfect for your next Happy Hour!

Two Smoky Mescal Margaritas in coup glasses in the foreground and one in the background on a tray next to a small bowl of spiced salt, two lime slices and two bottles of liquor in the background on a red linen

Why We Love This Smoky Margarita

A couple years ago my mom and sister went to Oaxaca Mexico for Christmas and returned with gifts. One was edible crickets (or chapulines) which are salty and crunchy, and pretty unremarkable actually. They also brought back Sal de Gusano, which is made from ground dried worms from the agave plant. They are a traditional accompaniment to Mescal, which is a Mexican liquor made from the agave cactus.

I love the smooth smoke flavor of the mescal mixed with the sweet orange and Cuantro, and the bright acidity of the lime. Plus the salt and Sal de Gusano on the rim is so savory! Perfect for those folks who don’t love overly-sweet cocktails.

Close up of a Smoky Mezcal Margarita with a salted rim and lime slices and another margarita in the background

Key Ingredients For This Mescal Margarita

Mescal

Mescal is similar to tequila, but its made from agave hearts that have been roasted in an earthen pit and are then fermented and distilled into liquor. The roasting gives the Mescal, complexity and distinctive smoky flavor.

Sal de Gusano

Sal de Gusano is made from ground chilies, salt and ground gusano (the worms themselves.) It is bright red, and coarsely ground. I know it sounds really bizarre, but it is absolutely delicious and when paired with the subtly sweet, smoky flavor of mescal and lime, it’s a perfect pairing indeed.

If you don’t have sal de gusano, use regular margarita salt mixed with a pinch or so of chipotle powder.

Fresh Lime and Orange Juice

Using freshly squeezed citrus juice makes a huge difference in the overall flavor of this cocktail.

Other Ingredients For This Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon margarita salt
  • 2 cups ice
  • 2 ounce Cuantro
Over head photo of three Smoky Mescal Margaritas in coup glasses on a tray with a red linen and lime slices and small bowl of spiced salt

Step By Step Instructions For This Smoky Margarita

Step 1: Salt the rims of the glasses.

Run lime around the edges of two margarita glasses. Mix salt and Sal de Gusano (or chipotle powder) on a small plate. Dip rims of glasses into the salt mixture. Turn upright, add 1 cup ice to each glass and set aside.

Step 2: Juice the citrus.

Juice the lime. Peel two 2-inch long strips of orange peel off the orange. Juice the orange.

Step 3: Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over ice.

Combine the lime juice, the orange juice, mescal and Cuantro in a small pitcher or shaker. Stir to combine. Pour over the ice, without dislodging the salt.

Step 4: Char the orange peel and serve.

Char the orange peel with a lighter until just blackened along the edges. Float on top of the margaritas a

Three Smoky Mescal Margaritas on a tray with a red linen

FAQs and Expert Tips

What is the difference between tequila and mescal?

Tequila is made from agave that has been steamed in ovens and then distilled. Mescal is made from agave that is cooked in earthen pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood before being distilled giving it that smoky flavor.

How much alcohol is in a margarita?

Typically a margarita is about 3 ounces of liquid with about 2 to 2 1/2 ounces being alcohol and the rest citrus juice and some water from ice melting.

What is a classic margarita made of?

A classic margarita is made of just 3 ingredients… tequila, orange liquor and lime juice.

These smoky, tart and sweet Mescal Margaritas, made with Cuantro, freshly squeezed lime and orange juice have a salted rim with a surprising ingredient! #mescal #margarita #cocktail #cincodemayo #vegan #lime #mexican

Additional Mexican Recipes To Try

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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These smoky, tart and sweet Mescal Margaritas, made with Cuantro, freshly squeezed lime and orange juice have a salted rim with a surprising ingredient! #mescal #margarita #cocktail #cincodemayo #vegan #lime #mexican

Smoky Mescal Margaritas


Description

These smoky, tart and sweet Mescal Margaritas, made with Cuantro, freshly squeezed lime and orange juice have a salted rim with a surprising ingredient!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon margarita salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sal de Gusano or just a pinch of chipotle chili powder, optional
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 3 ounces mescal
  • 2 ounce Cuantro

Instructions

  1. Run lime around the edges of two margarita glasses. Mix salt and Sal de Gusano (or chipotle powder) on a small plate. Dip rims of glasses into the salt mixture. Turn upright, add 1 cup ice to each glass and set aside.
  2. Juice the lime. Peel two 2-inch long strips of orange peel off the orange. Juice the orange.
  3. Combine the lime juice, the orange juice, mescal and Cuantro in a small pitcher or shaker. Stir to combine. Pour over the ice, without dislodging the salt.
  4. Char the orange peel with a lighter until just blackened along the edges. Float on top of the margaritas and serve.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: cocktail
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 5oz
  • Calories: 187
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 6.5g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0.5g

Keywords: Smoky Margarita,Mescal Margarita,Dried Worm Salt,Sal de Gusano