Although I’ll never say no to a neat shot of unadulterated single-source mezcal, I’m increasingly drawn to the array of mezcal-infused margaritas available nowadays. I’ve sampled an assortment of such cocktails, including blood orange and mezcal mules, but my favorite local application of the smoky drink is the Oaxacan Margarita at Lola’s Mexican Cuisine.
Artisanal Montelobos mezcal is combined with lime juice, house-made cucumber simple syrup and muddled jalapeños to create a crisp, perfectly balanced margarita. Of course, it’s served on the rocks—Lola’s doesn’t go in for that hackneyed goblet of slush many Americans still associate with margaritas—and dusted with just the right amount of spicy salt to keep you puckering. Enjoy it during happy hour with a side of gooey queso fundido.
Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, 4140 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, (562) 349-0100; also at 2030 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 343-5506.