Agave's popularity on bar lists is growing: 5 easy home recipes for traditional co*cktails with agave alternatives (2024)

Tequila-based margaritas and palomas have long been co*cktail-menu staples, but their base ingredient — agave — is working its way into other co*cktails for a modern twist on traditional drinks. (Also Read | From Jamun Shots to Bloody Meenakshi: 5 monsoon co*cktails with a desi twist)

Agave's popularity on bar lists is growing: 5 easy home recipes for traditional co*cktails with agave alternatives (1)

While tequila, made from the blue agave plant, is the best-known of the agave spirits, mezcal has also grown in popularity. It's made from a wider variety of agaves across Mexico, and is roasted underground for a smokier flavour.

Alan Uresti Silva, UK brand ambassador for The Lost Explorer Mezcal, says that when he came to London from Mexico nine years ago, it was hard to find an agave co*cktail on a bar list aside from a margarita.

Longtime bartender Bobby Hiddleston, who co-founded London's Swift co*cktail bars, agrees. Back then, he says, he wouldn’t have been able to sell a mezcal co*cktail. The change in attitude comes “off the shoulders of good quality tequila,” he says, adding that it’s great to see the agave category as a whole doing so well.

There's more understanding today among bartenders about agave, says Elon Soddu, co-founder of Amaro bar, across town. There are also more variations of agave, which he says makes it easy to swap out almost anything in your traditional co*cktail for an agave alternative.

Both blanco tequilas (non-aged tequilas) and young, lighter-smoked mezcals have a bright grassiness or “green flavour” that works well with citrus, says Hiddleston. Uresti Silva adds that these savoury vegetal notes can balance or replace a gin or vodka for something light and refreshing.

He also suggests using an anejo or extra anejo tequila or a smoky mezcal to replace a whiskey. An anejo tequila has been aged in an oak barrel between 1 and 3 years, while an extra anejo ages for a minimum of 3 years before being bottled.

Hiddleston says the aged agaves work well as a substitute for darker spirits such as brandy and cognacs, and particularly in stirred-down drinks with more vanilla and caramel notes coming through to bring a different flavour.

Here, five expert London bartenders offer up recipes that replace everyday spirits with agave alternatives. You can experiment at home with your own favourite brands.

NIGHTINGALE - Swift Shoreditch bar

For this agave spin on a martini, Hiddleston uses a reposado tequila (aged 2 months to 1 year in oak barrels). He says you can’t keep it as dry as you would a gin or vodka martini, and the key is to bolster the sweetness.

“We find using the blanco vermouth rather than a dry vermouth carries the flavour really well, and we just have a couple of little accessorizing things, orange bitters, almond,” he says.


40ml (1.4 oz) Tapatio Reposado tequila

25ml (0.8 oz) Reus blanco vermouth

5ml (0.2 oz) simple syrup

5ml (0.2 oz) Nardini Mandorola liqueur

2 dashes of Orange Bitters


Mix all ingredients in a glass, stir thoroughly. Strain over a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an olive.

MEZCAL NEGRONI - Hacha Brixton

At this award-winning agaveria, bar manager Ben Guillou serves up a Mezcal Negroni, a drink traditionally made with a London dry gin, Campari and vermouth, but he swaps out the gin for mezcal.


1 part The Lost Explorer Mezcal

1 part Campari

1 part Vermouth Bianco


Pour all ingredients over ice, stir thoroughly. Strain over a glass with ice and serve.


Cavita, one of London’s top Mexican restaurants, features a basem*nt Mexican Bar where they serve up a delicious spin on an Espresso Martini, adding coffee mezcal to vodka and freshly brewed espresso. Chef patron Adriana Cavita feels the mezcal brings a lot of flavour and complexity to the classic vodka co*cktail.

“This coffee-based mezcal is made with Mexican coffee, which I think has a lot of aroma," she says. "You can feel a little bit of the cinnamon. Also, I feel like it takes a bit of the sweetness from the drink.”


40ml (1.4 oz) Faie Quinoa vodka

25ml (0.8 oz) Ojo DeDios Café mezcal

50 ml (1.7 oz) espresso

15ml (0.5 oz) sugar


Make double espresso.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake vigorously until a foam forms.

Double strain into a martini/coupe and dust with a little cinnamon powder on top and serve.


Former head mixologist at The Savoy hotel, Soddu brings a five-star bar experience to his west London bar Amaro. One of the bestsellers on his menu is the Tomato Bamboo. Traditionally a lower strength drink made with sherry and two types of vermouth, this recipe switches a vermouth for a mezcal, retaining the dry taste but adding a smoky herbal touch.

“It’s a little bit stronger and gives this nice smokiness on the drink that gives this nice and funky flavour,” he says.


30ml (1 oz) Los Siete Misterios Doba Yej Mezcal,

20ml (0.7 oz) Tio Pepe Fino Sherry,

10ml (0.35 oz) 1757 Vermouth di Torino Extra Dry,

25ml (0.8 oz) La Tomato liqueur,

3 drops celery bitters.


Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass, stir over ice. Pour in a chilled coupette with a cherry tomato garnish.

NOTE: This recipe has been adapted to make it easier to recreate at home. For the authentic Amaro recipe, all ingredients are clarified in a centrifuge.

MAESTRO OLD FASHIONED - Mezcalito Brompton

The final co*cktail comes from Oliver Castilla-Tristan, co-founder of late-night co*cktail bar and club Mezcalito Brompton. He does a twist on the classic Old Fashioned recipe of whiskey, sugar, angostura bitters and water.

“We’re using anejo tequila, which is aged tequila. We use a bit of cacao liqueur, and angostura as well," he says, "bringing both flavours of vanilla, a bit of sweetness, but that robust taste of agave as well, which is very interesting.”


40ml (1.4 oz) Maestro Dobel Añejo Tequila

15ml (0.5 oz) Créme de Cacao (Giffard)

2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

2 dashes of Orange Bitters

Orange Peel & Grated Nutmeg


Mix all ingredients into a mixing glass full of ice cubes. Stir for about 20-30 seconds.

Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with orange peel and a little grated nutmeg.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

News / Lifestyle / Recipes / Agave's popularity on bar lists is growing: 5 easy home recipes for traditional co*cktails with agave alternatives

Agave's popularity on bar lists is growing: 5 easy home recipes for traditional co*cktails with agave alternatives (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated:

Views: 5617

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.