This spicy mezcal margarita recipe is not a cocktail for everyone. It’s smokey. It’s got a bit of sweetness and bite from the lime juice. And please, please don’t mistake mezcal for tequila.

Though mezcal is considered the “cousin” of tequila by some, it is altogether a different spirit. True, it’s made from agave – but mezcal is (at its best) a fine, hand-crafted spirit. Think of it this way: Mezcal is to tequila what calvados is to applejacks. Similar, but very different. To make it, Mexican villagers use ancient techniques and a wide variety of wild agave plants. The agave pinas then are chopped and roasted, but here is one difference: the pinas are buried in pits with hot rocks and smoked with the woods of local oak or mesquite, before they are crushed and then go into the fermenter. The result: a smoky and earthy flavor, and it’s absolutely amazing in cocktails.

We normally enjoy a glass of mezcal by itself, on the rocks. But on a summer evening, when the weather is warm and we want something with a bit of bite, we’ll whip up a batch of spicy mezcal margaritas. Honestly, this really is the best mezcal margarita recipe I’ve ever tasted. The key is simplicity – and the salt garnish adds some heat to the drink that helps bring out the smokiness of the spirits, while the fresh lime juice and blood orange extract adds a brightness that you normally don’t get in a standard margarita mix.

We used our Green Chile and Lime spiced cocktail salt on this as a garnish, and also to bring in a little Southwestern flavor to the drink recipe. We created the salt after we came back from a trip to Taos, New Mexico. The addictive heat of the chilies, the tang of fresh lime, all infused into one of our favorite salts. The result: oh-so-flavorful and a perfect spicy margarita salt. If you like flavored cocktail salts on your drink rim, this is the drink garnish for you.

Need photos of how to rim a glass like this with out cocktail salts or sugars? Check out our easy to follow recipe tutorial.