The Jade Mezcal Margarita is a complex and bold take on the classic Mexican cocktail. It’s tart, refreshing, and slightly spicy, with a hint of bitterness. The aroma is bright and vegetal. Try this one out if you want something more nuanced than the ordinary.
Trying to make an interesting cocktail
For my first cocktail recipe on the site, I wanted to share something special. As I’ve (ostensibly) grown up I’ve come to appreciate complex, layered flavors in cocktails. Plenty of places charge fifteen dollars for a cocktail nowadays. In my mind, the drinks worth that high price are the ones that create a flavor and sensation you’ve never experienced before. Sometimes it’s like an entirely new taste that you don’t have a word to describe. Other times it’s a sequence of different flavors, rather than a single simultaneous one.
In any case, it’s hard to make a truly remarkable cocktail. I don’t consider this cocktail truly remarkable, but it has a lot of the flavor elements that I want. It has an unusual jade-green color and it’s not too difficult to make. So I’ll consider it a good start.
Departing from the usual
Many of the most popular mixed drinks have a sweet-sour flavor profile. Whether it’s a mojito, cosmopolitan, old fashioned, or a margarita, the main flavors are sweet and sour (and boozy). A margarita does add salt to the flavor profile, but it is literally just salt, with not much nuance.
Recently, cocktails with bitter elements are becoming more popular. The Negroni and Aperol spritz, for example, are sweet, sour, and bitter. It can be strangely refreshing. Bitterness is something I wanted to include in this first cocktail. You can get bitterness from liqueurs or from fruits and vegetables.
Tweaking the original
I appreciate the simplicity of the classic margarita, despite its simple(r) flavor profile. It’s really refreshing and doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar if you make your own from fresh limes. I started with the margarita as my basis and started making some tweaks to make it more fun.
I swapped the tequila for joven mezcal, as I love the subtle smoky flavor. I was slightly torn about mixing it like this, knowing that mezcal is a fairly artisanal product that’s also tasty straight-up. But it does pair well the other flavors in the drink.
To add to the refreshingness of the drink and also give it a bit of bite, I added fresh ginger root. I like the bright clean flavor of ginger and it goes well with lime and mezcal.
For a different sort of bite, I added a small amount of green jalapeño. It’s enough to lend a bit of fragrance (fresh jalapeños smell fantastic, just don’t touch your nose to a cut one) but not so much that it’s overwhelming.
Instead of adding a sugary orange liqueur, I opted for fresh clementine (mandarin orange) juice. This adds some sweetness but keeps the drink on the tart side.
Making it a Jade Mezcal Margarita
The final element in the drink is the one that gives it the bitterness and the gorgeous jade color. It’s kale. Dinosaur kale. It may be cliche but it works really well in this drink. It yields a very mild bitterness, and you see it and smell it more than you taste it. The aroma is pleasantly vegetal but the flavor is balanced between tart, sweet, spicy, and bitter.
Some notes before you begin
The amount of jalapeno in the recipe produces a mild result. You can double it for a pleasantly tangy (but not super intense) spiciness. Do remove the seeds from the jalapeño in any case.
The recipe is portioned so you can taste the smokiness of the mezcal, but it is actually fairly light on the booze. If you want a boozier version, you can increase the amount of mezcal by 50%.
If you want to make a jade margarita but don’t have mezcal, you can use tequila as well. Try to get a tequila that is made from 100% agave. It’ll have better flavor and won’t cause as bad a hangover.
The recipe uses a blender and a shaker. This way it’s possible to get the benefits of the infusion of the ginger, jalapeño, and kale as well as the refreshingness of a margarita on the rocks.
If you have an electric juicer, you can use it with the limes, kale, ginger, and jalapeño and the final texture will come out even smoother. This isn’t a requirement, though. I made it with a blender and it was plenty smooth.
If you want to make a virgin cocktail, I’d recommend replacing the mezcal with sparkling water. Do not shake the cocktail in this case because it will make a mess. (Trust me.)
As always, the recipe plugin can adjust the quantity if you’d like to make a large batch. Just click on the number of servings and drag the slider. A single batch provides just the minimum amount that would blend thoroughly in my blender. You’ll have an easier time if you make a double (or greater) size batch.
Plant-based Tex-Mex food to pair with the Jade Mezcal Margarita
If you try this recipe out, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @gastroplant on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.
Jade Mezcal Margarita
- 3 leaves dinosaur aka lacinato kale, ribs removed
- 1/3 cup lime juice about 2 limes’ worth
- 3 Tablespoons mandarin orange juice one orange’s worth
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
- 1/4 jalapeno pepper seeds removed
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup (or agave nectar)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup mezcal
- 2 cups large ice cubes
- 2 jalapeno slices optional garnish
- 2 baby kale leaves optional garnish
- Combine all the ingredients for the Mixture in a blender. Blend on low for 20 seconds, then on high for 40 seconds, until the texture is consistent. You may need to use a scraper to push the ingredients down toward the blade if you’re just making a single batch. You can gradually add water to the blender if it isn't combining well.
- Transfer the contents of the blender to a cocktail shaker. Add mezcal and ice. Close shaker. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour into serving glasses. Do not strain out the ice. Serve immediately.