Smoky Lemon Margarita

smoky lemon margarita in round glass pitcher
Photo: Petrina Tinslay
Prep Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
8 to 10 Serves

Mix up a pitcher of this make-ahead margarita for a cookout. Mezcal, tequila’s smoky cousin, gives the drink it’s signature flavor.


  • 1 cup sugar

  • Peeled zest of 4 lemons, plus 1 1/2 cups fresh juice

  • 12 ounces mezcal, chilled

  • 6 ounces orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, chilled

  • Orange rounds, coarse sea salt or margarita salt, and frozen lemon wedges (or ice) for serving


  1. Syrup: In a saucepan, combine sugar, lemon zest, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool completely. Strain, discarding zest; stir in lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate in an airtight container until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 cups.

  2. Margarita: In a pitcher, stir together syrup, mezcal, and liqueur. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 day, if desired. Run an orange round along the rim of each serving glass; dip each rim in salt. Add orange rounds and frozen lemon wedges to pitcher. Pour drinks into prepared glasses; serve with more orange rounds and frozen lemon wedges.


For a version without smokiness, use silver tequila in place of mezcal.

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