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Frozen margarita and a mezcal old fashioned
Frozen margarita and a mezcal old fashioned at Oxomoco
Alex Staniloff/Eater

17 Tequila Temples With Outstanding Agave-Based Drinks

Bars with long tequila and mezcal lists as well as top-notch cocktails

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Frozen margarita and a mezcal old fashioned at Oxomoco
| Alex Staniloff/Eater

Just like NYC’s growing and varied Mexican scene, tequila and mezcal have become centerpieces in bars nodding to their south-of-the-border brethren. Here are the tequilerias and mezcalerias to drink in agave gold.

Note: This is an updated version of a map originally published in 2018.

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Vida Verde

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In addition to the best frozen margarita in NYC, Vida Verde in Hell’s Kitchen has an impressively long tequila and mezcal selection, with a lower priced selection later at night. It’s also in cocktails like the eponymous Vida Verde, with snap pea-infused Banhez mezcal, Génépy, lemon, sour orange, and tarragon. Drink it all alongside tacos and a colorful outdoor rooftop area.

A frozen margarita at Vida Verde sits on a table next to a window Ryan Sutton/Eater

This sophisticated Upper East Side taqueria is at least as notable for Atlantic cod tacos as its happy hour, which runs every day to close starting at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends, featuring $8 margaritas and small plates. The tequila list is massive and there are smart margarita variations like the Yucatan version made with blood orange.

Maya
Maya
Maya [Official Photo]

Any venue naming itself after the aged tequila better deliver on the brown agave. Luckily, Hell’s Kitchen’s Añejo, decked out with Day of the Dead-style murals, has a respectable list of dozens of tequilas, separated by their highlands and lowlands origins. The flights provide an introduction to hard-to-find spirits. There’s an additional location in Tribeca.

Añejo
Añejo
Anejo [Official Photo]

La Biblioteca

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La Biblioteca is a special kind of library that stocks about 400 different agave spirits and has a tequila sommelier to help customers choose the right option for that night. While the atmosphere is clubby, those bottles are beautifully showcased along the walls. Anyone who buys a bottle can keep it stored in one of the bar’s lockers for free and retrieve it later with a library card.

La Biblioteca
La Biblioteca
La Biblioteca [Official Photo]

Mexicue

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Mexicue is all about not taking itself too seriously, fusing Mexican street food with American barbecue. The bartenders at the roomy Nomad restaurant are friendly and well-practiced in slinging cocktails like the smoky margarita, served with a chili rim, which cuts the sweetness and fattiness of brisket tacos. The menu equally focuses on bourbon for the American side of things, but there are various flights of each spirit available. Additional locations are in Midtown and Chelsea.

Mexicue
Mexicue
Mexicue [Official Photo]

The selection of over 100 tequilas at this West Village Mexican restaurant right on Seventh Avenue is constantly rotating with seasonal additions. Ask a bartender for help finding the right expression, or grab the slightly numbing Acapulco Spice margarita made with jalapeño-infused tequila.

Agave
Agave
Agave [Official Photo]

Oxomoco

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One- and two-ounce pours are available for 30 tequilas and more than 60 mezcals from across Mexico at this Greepoint Oaxacan destination. The spirits also go into cocktails like the Rosita (mezcal, sherry, grapefruit) and the Oaxacan Summer (mezcal, coconut rum, pineapple). A bonus is that the food from Oxocomo’s wood-fired grill has earned a Michelin star.

El Toro Blanco

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El Toro Blanco focuses on Baja-inspired fish dishes like mahi mahi tacos and a tuna tostada. Like the food, the small, low-lit, stylishly mod space is ideal for a refreshing drink. In addition to a house Paloma made with Espolòn Reposado, the extensive spirits list includes top-notch tequila and mezcal producers from Avion to Del Maguey. The flights are a convenient way to sample the offerings.

Empellon Al Pastor

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Alex Stupak’s Mexican-ish mini-chain Empellon finds the right balance between comfort and innovation in Al Pastor, its accessible East Village outpost hawking stoner-friendly fare from lamb shoulder tacos to jalapeño poppers with a bacon-cream cheese filling. It’s all available at the long, rustic bar, to be washed down with a simple margarita or a pour of a bracing, complex tequila like Siete Leguas Blanco.

La Esquina

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This Soho mainstay is nothing if not sceney, whether in the upstairs walk-in taqueria overrun with young partiers or in the more exclusive downstairs brasserie. The latter, with posh decoration, is a place to share multiple rounds of margaritas and tequila shots with close friends. There are additional La Esquina locations in Midtown and on the Upper East Side.

La Contenta

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This small, artfully designed Lower East Side hangout has a bar with a well-curated, concise selection of tequila and mezcal. They’re put to use in inventive cocktails, including the Mayan, utilizing coconut-infused tequila and corn puree. There’s an additional La Contenta in the West Village.

La Contenta La Contenta [Official Photo]

Casa Mezcal

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Beyond playful decor and Mexican fare at this Lower East Side cantina, there’s also — as the name indicates — a nice mezcal list. There are dozens to choose from on their own, as well as in cocktails like a mezcal Manhattan. Three floors give it a raucous vibe, so don’t come necessarily for serious sipping.

La Milagrosa

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How to outdo all the other ultra-hip New York faux-speakeasies? Williamsburg’s La Milagrosa answers that question by putting its cozy, dark, woody bar behind a deli’s freezer door. The staff and lounge itself are surprisingly laid-back, and drinks home in on mezcal, including in a smoky yet zippy margarita. Excellent rotating DJs take over the speakers, leading to impromptu group dance sessions.

Leyenda

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This Carroll Gardens cocktail den expands beyond Mexico to cover the bases of Latin drinking. Under the guidance of Clover Club’s Julie Reiner and headed up by award-winning bartender Ivy Mix, Leyenda has a vast tequila and mezcal selection, and the cocktails veer in many enticing directions. The Sharkbait brings together blanco tequila, guava, lime, and the Italian apéritif Cappelletti. The back patio is delightful for lingering on warm days, and there’s a menu of Latin-inspired bar food.

Leyenda Daniel Krieger/Eater

Calaca is a cash-only Mexican restaurant with a tight menu of tostadas, tacos, and snacks but an impressively lengthy list of mezcals. It offers them in flights and focuses on smaller producers. Tequila and mezcal are the only spirits on hand here, and they’re used in cocktails that include a well-executed mezcalita. Be sure to ask if they have anything new in, and be aware that it’s a very small space that often gets full at dinner time.

This Gowanus Oaxacan restaurant has a rotating selection of 125 tequilas and mezcals from across Mexico, available in glass, bottle, and flight form. The spirits are also incorporated into cocktails like the Isla Alpestre with tobala-espadin mezcal, charred pineapple, ancho, and amaro. It’s all alongside dishes such as yellowfin tostada and red mole.

La Loba Cantina

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La Loba brings a taste of Oaxaca to its two-room, white-hued space in Kensington, Brooklyn. In addition to exciting food rooted in the Mexican region, its mezcals are the specialty here, with 50 varieties available in small and large shots or in classic and house cocktails.

La Loba Cantina
La Loba Cantina
Paul Crispin Quitoriano/Eater

Vida Verde

In addition to the best frozen margarita in NYC, Vida Verde in Hell’s Kitchen has an impressively long tequila and mezcal selection, with a lower priced selection later at night. It’s also in cocktails like the eponymous Vida Verde, with snap pea-infused Banhez mezcal, Génépy, lemon, sour orange, and tarragon. Drink it all alongside tacos and a colorful outdoor rooftop area.

A frozen margarita at Vida Verde sits on a table next to a window Ryan Sutton/Eater

Maya

This sophisticated Upper East Side taqueria is at least as notable for Atlantic cod tacos as its happy hour, which runs every day to close starting at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends, featuring $8 margaritas and small plates. The tequila list is massive and there are smart margarita variations like the Yucatan version made with blood orange.

Maya
Maya
Maya [Official Photo]

Añejo

Any venue naming itself after the aged tequila better deliver on the brown agave. Luckily, Hell’s Kitchen’s Añejo, decked out with Day of the Dead-style murals, has a respectable list of dozens of tequilas, separated by their highlands and lowlands origins. The flights provide an introduction to hard-to-find spirits. There’s an additional location in Tribeca.

Añejo
Añejo
Anejo [Official Photo]

La Biblioteca

La Biblioteca is a special kind of library that stocks about 400 different agave spirits and has a tequila sommelier to help customers choose the right option for that night. While the atmosphere is clubby, those bottles are beautifully showcased along the walls. Anyone who buys a bottle can keep it stored in one of the bar’s lockers for free and retrieve it later with a library card.

La Biblioteca
La Biblioteca
La Biblioteca [Official Photo]

Mexicue

Mexicue is all about not taking itself too seriously, fusing Mexican street food with American barbecue. The bartenders at the roomy Nomad restaurant are friendly and well-practiced in slinging cocktails like the smoky margarita, served with a chili rim, which cuts the sweetness and fattiness of brisket tacos. The menu equally focuses on bourbon for the American side of things, but there are various flights of each spirit available. Additional locations are in Midtown and Chelsea.

Mexicue
Mexicue
Mexicue [Official Photo]

Agave

The selection of over 100 tequilas at this West Village Mexican restaurant right on Seventh Avenue is constantly rotating with seasonal additions. Ask a bartender for help finding the right expression, or grab the slightly numbing Acapulco Spice margarita made with jalapeño-infused tequila.

Agave
Agave
Agave [Official Photo]

Oxomoco

One- and two-ounce pours are available for 30 tequilas and more than 60 mezcals from across Mexico at this Greepoint Oaxacan destination. The spirits also go into cocktails like the Rosita (mezcal, sherry, grapefruit) and the Oaxacan Summer (mezcal, coconut rum, pineapple). A bonus is that the food from Oxocomo’s wood-fired grill has earned a Michelin star.

El Toro Blanco

El Toro Blanco focuses on Baja-inspired fish dishes like mahi mahi tacos and a tuna tostada. Like the food, the small, low-lit, stylishly mod space is ideal for a refreshing drink. In addition to a house Paloma made with Espolòn Reposado, the extensive spirits list includes top-notch tequila and mezcal producers from Avion to Del Maguey. The flights are a convenient way to sample the offerings.

Empellon Al Pastor

Alex Stupak’s Mexican-ish mini-chain Empellon finds the right balance between comfort and innovation in Al Pastor, its accessible East Village outpost hawking stoner-friendly fare from lamb shoulder tacos to jalapeño poppers with a bacon-cream cheese filling. It’s all available at the long, rustic bar, to be washed down with a simple margarita or a pour of a bracing, complex tequila like Siete Leguas Blanco.

La Esquina

This Soho mainstay is nothing if not sceney, whether in the upstairs walk-in taqueria overrun with young partiers or in the more exclusive downstairs brasserie. The latter, with posh decoration, is a place to share multiple rounds of margaritas and tequila shots with close friends. There are additional La Esquina locations in Midtown and on the Upper East Side.

La Contenta

This small, artfully designed Lower East Side hangout has a bar with a well-curated, concise selection of tequila and mezcal. They’re put to use in inventive cocktails, including the Mayan, utilizing coconut-infused tequila and corn puree. There’s an additional La Contenta in the West Village.

La Contenta La Contenta [Official Photo]

Casa Mezcal

Beyond playful decor and Mexican fare at this Lower East Side cantina, there’s also — as the name indicates — a nice mezcal list. There are dozens to choose from on their own, as well as in cocktails like a mezcal Manhattan. Three floors give it a raucous vibe, so don’t come necessarily for serious sipping.

La Milagrosa

How to outdo all the other ultra-hip New York faux-speakeasies? Williamsburg’s La Milagrosa answers that question by putting its cozy, dark, woody bar behind a deli’s freezer door. The staff and lounge itself are surprisingly laid-back, and drinks home in on mezcal, including in a smoky yet zippy margarita. Excellent rotating DJs take over the speakers, leading to impromptu group dance sessions.

Leyenda

This Carroll Gardens cocktail den expands beyond Mexico to cover the bases of Latin drinking. Under the guidance of Clover Club’s Julie Reiner and headed up by award-winning bartender Ivy Mix, Leyenda has a vast tequila and mezcal selection, and the cocktails veer in many enticing directions. The Sharkbait brings together blanco tequila, guava, lime, and the Italian apéritif Cappelletti. The back patio is delightful for lingering on warm days, and there’s a menu of Latin-inspired bar food.

Leyenda Daniel Krieger/Eater

Calaca

Calaca is a cash-only Mexican restaurant with a tight menu of tostadas, tacos, and snacks but an impressively lengthy list of mezcals. It offers them in flights and focuses on smaller producers. Tequila and mezcal are the only spirits on hand here, and they’re used in cocktails that include a well-executed mezcalita. Be sure to ask if they have anything new in, and be aware that it’s a very small space that often gets full at dinner time.

Related Maps

Claro

This Gowanus Oaxacan restaurant has a rotating selection of 125 tequilas and mezcals from across Mexico, available in glass, bottle, and flight form. The spirits are also incorporated into cocktails like the Isla Alpestre with tobala-espadin mezcal, charred pineapple, ancho, and amaro. It’s all alongside dishes such as yellowfin tostada and red mole.

La Loba Cantina

La Loba brings a taste of Oaxaca to its two-room, white-hued space in Kensington, Brooklyn. In addition to exciting food rooted in the Mexican region, its mezcals are the specialty here, with 50 varieties available in small and large shots or in classic and house cocktails.

La Loba Cantina
La Loba Cantina
Paul Crispin Quitoriano/Eater

Related Maps