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.
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).