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15 mezcal cocktails to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Tampa Bay

Ditch the margarita this year, and go for something a little different.

The margarita has reigned as the go-to Cinco de Mayo cocktail for long enough, don’t you think? This year, start a new holiday sipping ritual with libations that call for another agave-based liquor: mezcal.

Unlike tequila, which must only be made from blue agave, mezcal can be made from more than 30 types of agave. This is why all tequilas are mezcal, but not all mezcals are tequila. There are also differences in how and where the production of both spirits goes down.

Now back to the celebrating. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, follow our guide to 15 mezcal cocktails crafted by Mexican eateries and drinking dens around town.

Down in Old Mexico

Intermezzo Coffee and Cocktails

(SCOTT KEELER | Times)

Attention, tequila enthusiasts: Intermezzo is another spot that pairs your favorite booze with mezcal. The addition of dry curacao, ancho pepper, mole bitters and lemon completes Down in Old Mexico. Owner Jarrett Sabatini said the margarita variation delivers flavors of dried Mexican spices, citrus, smoke and candied orange. intermezzo.com

Address: 1111 Central Ave., St. Petersburg

Phone: (727) 873-6664

77 Steps

CW’s Gin Joint

This swanky downtown hangout’s tasty take on the classic Jungle Bird cocktail combines Mexcal (a brand of mezcal) with pineapple, gentian and cinnamon. cwginjoint.com

Address: 633 N Franklin St., Tampa

Phone: (813) 816-1446

Blood Money

Trophy Fish

A mix of Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Aperol, Averna and blood orange is your celebratory reward for “sinking the enemy ship,” according to the Grand Central District fish house’s menu. trophyfishstpete.com

Address: 2060 Central Ave., St. Petersburg

Phone: (727) 258-7883

Comfortably Numb

The C House

Mezcal and Corazon Blanco Tequila join forces with lemon juice and Benedictine D. O. M. liqueur in the C House original. thechouse.com

Address: 6005 N Florida Ave., Tampa

Phone: (813) 488-4813

Mezcal Paloma

Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar

(Photo courtesy of Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar)

Sporting a half-rim of black sea salt, another riff on a classic that features mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime juice and simple syrup topped with grapefruit Jarritos. roccostacos.com

Address: International Plaza, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa

Phone: (813) 800-8226

Cousin Named Jeff

Copper Shaker

If this one sounds familiar, that’s because we gave it a shout-out in our bar review of Copper Shaker more than a year ago. Cousin Named Jeff adds red bell pepper, raspberry, ginger, lime and agave to Suerte Blanco tequila and Montelobos mezcal to surprise your taste buds. coppershaker.com

Address: 169 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg

Phone: (727) 351-2569

Del Maguey Daiquiri

Room 901

A simple, refreshing combination of rum, Vida mezcal, lime and simple syrup presented in intimate EDGE District digs. Don’t pass up the twist on a stalwart sipper.

Address: 901 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg

Phone: (727) 290-9492

Finalmente

DeSanto Rooftop Bar

Red Mesa Cantina has a large mezcal collection. (Times, 2017)

A couple of years back, we told you Red Mesa Cantina carries an impressive selection of mezcal (almost 100 kinds back in 2017). But some smoky goodness awaits above the downtown mainstay as well. Rooftop hangout DeSanto’s Finalmente starts with Mezcal Union Uno, followed by Chartreuse, Luxardo and lime. desantobar.com

Address: 128 Third St S, St. Petersburg

Phone: (727) 896-8226

Fleming’s Way

Edison: Food and Drink Lab

Compass Box “Great King Street Artist’s Blend” Scotch, Vida mezcal, Cardamaro, Velvet falernum, cinnamon bark, honey and lemon come together in Fleming’s Way. edison-tampa.com

Address: 912 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

Phone: (813) 254-7111

Mezcalita

Grand Hacienda

Another elixir highlighting Vida mezcal, plus Luxardo liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice and mint cordial. St. Pete Beach-born Grand Hacienda serves the ’rita-style Mezcalita on the rocks with a Tajin rim exclusively at its St. Petersburg location. grandhaciendarestaurant.com

Address: 399 11th Ave. N, St. Petersburg

Phone: (727) 256-9770

Mezcal Mule

Nueva Cantina

(Photo courtesy of Nueva Cantina)

The laid-back Mexican restaurant swaps the traditional recipe’s vodka for Vida mezcal, pouring the spirit into a mule cup with lemon sour mix and ginger beer. The whole thing is then garnished with a lime wheel. nuevacantina.com

St. Petersburg: 1625 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg, (727) 851-9579

Tampa: 4918 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, (813) 831-1101

Mezcal Mule

Casey’s Craft Bar Kitchen

Keep the Cinco de Mayo merriment going with a hotter take on the Mezcal Mule uniting Zignum Mezcal, spicy agave, ginger beer, jalapenos and lime. craftbarkitchentampa.com

Address: 17667 N Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz

Phone: (813) 302-9189

Mucho Gusto

Saigon Blonde

Enjoy the tropical setting as you down this yummy cocktail with Ilegal mezcal, honey, lime, Joto Yuzu sake and falernum. Although Mucho Gusto is no longer listed on the regular menu, Saigon Blonde will still whip it up for you. saigonblonde.com

Address: 265 Central Ave., St. Petersburg

Phone: (727) 827-7577

Smoke on the Water

Bartaco

(Photo courtesy of Bartaco.)

Margaritas are hard to pass up at the upscale street food chain. But do it for this marriage of Banhez mezcal, Cappelletti aperitvo, watermelon, lemon and mint, described as bold, rich, juicy and cool. bartaco.com

Address: Hyde Park Village, 1601 W Snow Ave., Tampa

Phone: (813) 258-8226

Smoked Out!

Mekenita Cantina

(Photo courtesy of Mekenita Cantina)

The Pacific-fresh Mexican restaurant in Seminole Heights uses an infusion of pasilla chile and Xicaru mezcal to pull off the fiery Smoked Out!, which also showcases Aperol, sweet vermouth, coriander and orange bitters. mekenitacantina.com

Address: 6707 N Florida Ave., Tampa

Phone: (813) 232-8226


If you can’t shake the marg craving ...

$100 Margarita

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

(Photo courtesy of Fleming's)

Splurge on the cocktail hanging out at Fleming’s through the end of May. The upscale chain has collaborated with famed fine crystal manufacturer Baccarat to once again offer the $100 margarita in a take-home Diamant tumbler. What else justifies its luxurious price tag? Extra Anejo La Latilla from single-estate and single-vintage producer Tequila Ocho. Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire also makes an appearance in the sophisticated ’rita topped with a lime wheel and pineapple leaves. 4322 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa. (813) 874-9463. flemingssteakhouse.com.

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