There’s so much more to Mexican cocktails than just the margarita! Here are more drinks that are worth adding to your repertoire.
There’s more to Mexican cocktails than the margarita! Of course, the Classic Margarita is a thing of beauty (as are its endless variations). But if you’re looking for other options for Mexican drinks: there are so many to try! Make sure to have a big bottle of tequila at the ready.
Just what is considered a Mexican cocktail? This list of favorites contains the following main categories of drinks:
Authentic Mexican drinks that are popular in Mexico, like the Paloma, margarita, chelada, and michelada
One of the most classic Mexican cocktails is the Paloma! This easy bubbly cocktail combines tequila with grapefruit to make a simple sour that’s sweet tart and refreshing. It’s perfect for happy hour drinks, or water it down and it could be a brunch drink too. The Paloma is traditionally made with grapefruit soda, but this recipe uses grapefruit juice and soda water.
Ingredients: Tequila, grapefruit, lime, simple syrup, soda water
Of course, the margarita is the best known of all Mexican cocktails! Did you know the classic recipe has no added simple syrup? Here's the classic way to make it: with three ingredients and a salt rim. It's true perfection. Try all our margarita recipes (Mezcal, Skinny, Jalapeno, Mango, and more).
The Michelada is a spicy Mexican beer cocktail made with beer, tomato juice, lime juice and hot sauce. Consider it a sort of combination between a Bloody Mary and a beer margarita! The best part is the glass rim: a mix of Old Bay, chili powder and celery salt brings a salty, savory flair to the front end of this refreshing drink. The flavor is just right for lots of occasions, from summer afternoon drinks or a Mexican-themed brunch.
Want a refreshing beer cocktail that’s as irresistible as it is easy to mix up? Try a Chelada! The Chelada is another type of cervesa preparada: a beer cocktail or “prepared beer” in Spanish. A Chelada features Mexican lager with lime, versus the Michelada which is like a Bloody Mary made with beer. Top it off with a salty rim and it’s ideal for anytime: a laid back brunch, cocktails on the patio, or a dinner of shrimp tacos.
Here's a Mexican cocktail that's an after dinner drink: the Carajillo! This cocktail is popular in Spain and Latin America, but it’s probably most famous in Mexico where you’ll find it made with Licor 43. One sip and you’ll taste sweet vanilla, chocolate and citrus notes from the Licor and the bitter, rich notes of the coffee. It’s truly a match made in heaven!
This Mexican cocktail is bold, it’s bubbly, and it’s ready to spice up your next gathering! It's not a traditional Mexican drink, but this tequila spin on the Moscow Mule is absolutely worth making (and might be even better than the classic). The way the bite of the tequila combines with spicy ginger and zingy lime makes it impossible not to immediately take another sip. Here’s how to make this classy spin on the classic.
Want to mix up your standard margarita repertoire? Try the Mexican martini! An American invention created in Texas, it takes the best of a classic martini and a classic margarita in the same glass! Like a good margarita, it’s seriously tangy, not too sweet and citrusy. Then it’s got a hint of dry vermouth like a martini, and it’s garnished with an olive.
And don’t forget that salt rim! It’s the perfect unique cocktail to impress a load of guests, or down as you inhale a basket of chips.
Here’s a variation on the classic Irish coffee, and it’s a stunner: Mexican Coffee! It's not traditional Mexican but a tequila-based spin on a classic, much like the Mexican mule or the Bloody Maria. Sure it’s basic, but it’s darn delicious. Mix two Mexican liqueurs into coffee — tequila and Kahlua — and you get an irresistibly delicious spin on spiked coffee. Top it with cinnamon, and it’s hard to beat.
Another non-traditional Mexican cocktail that's a spin on a classic. The Bloody Mary is a classic vodka cocktail, but swap out the liquor for tequila and you've got a Bloody Maria! This Mexican-style spin on the classic is absolutely worth trying: it's tangy, spicy, and perfectly seasoned. The tequila brings a bright nuance to the drink, where vodka can get lost.
Ingredients: Tequila, tomato juice, horseradish, lemon, Tabasco, Worcestershire, celery salt
Tex-Mex counts as Mexican cocktails too, right? Ranch Water is the unofficial drink of West Texas, essentially a tequila highball made with lime juice and Topo Chico. It’s like a bubbly, lighter version of the classic margarita, with all the tangy lime but less sweetness and booze. Could there be anything more refreshing? (We think not.)
Ingredients: Tequila, lime juice, Topo Chico (or other mineral water)
What tequila to use
Many of these Mexican cocktails use tequila…because it’s the national spirit! Made from the agave plant, tequila is made in the region around the Mexican city of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. Here are a few notes about the tequila to look for:
Buy a good tequila! A cocktail is only as good as the alcohol you use. Look for a mid-price range tequila (or above): this is typically directly related to quality.
Tequila blanco (or “new” tequila) has been aged less than 2 months and has a strong, straightforward flavor. Use in easy drinks like a Frozen Margarita.
Tequila reposado (“rested” in Spanish) is aged longer, from 2 to 12 months. It has a more nuanced flavor, with notes of oak and vanilla. Use in classy drinks like the Classic Margarita or Cadillac Margarita.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.