Every bartender quietly chuckles inside whenever a customer orders a Skinny Margarita, a pretentious drink that’s become akin to a $13 Moon Juice or vegetarian lasagna. Cutting the simple syrup or agave nectar from a Margarita does help to keep the sugar—and therefore the potential for a hangover—at a lower level, though most Skinny Margs purchased at bars get drunk by annoying humans who also consume copious amounts of Diet Coke.
On the other hand, ordering a Skinny Mezcal Margarita sounds like you don’t want any Cointreau or sugary goop contaminating the beautiful essence of delicious mezcal. In short, the drink is way more classy. Plus, the more complex flavors of mezcal—which results from being baked underground for a few days, as compared to tequila, which is made by steaming agave—help to reduce the sometimes overwhelming tartness of pure citrus without the sugar.
For some drinkers, though, mezcal still holds a stigma. “It’s too smoky, like Scotch,” they complain, not realizing that those complex notes are exactly what attract more mature palates. But just like the differences even between Scotches from the same distillery—or possibly even more—mezcal’s wide range of growing regions, cactus varietals, and distilling methods make for a seriously complex landscape from which to choose the perfect base for the perfect Skinny Mezcal Margarita.
We found that using Madre’s Espadin Y Cuishe varietal—not too smoky but at 45% ABV, nice and bitey—might be able to lure potential victims into the (by now well-established) mezcal craze without overwhelming smoke on the first sip. Though, of course, any mezcal will do. The recipe is pretty simple, though adding a dash of orange bitters can also help deepen the brightness of lemon and lime juice.
2 oz Mezcal
1 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Lemon Juice
Dash Orange Bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker full of crushed ice and shake vigorously, letting enough water join the mix to help reduce tartness. Pour over rocks into a large utility glass, rim salt optional. Top with a lime slice. (Pro tip: increase the proportions and start out with a full pitcher. It’ll get finished in no time.)