Drink of the Week: Kalani’s Mezcal Jalapeno Margarita

This week’s featured drink is Kalani’s Mexcal Jalapeno Margarita. (Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

In our Drink of the Week segment, we’ll showcase one unique type of beer, wine, cocktail — you name it — to try at one of the countless breweries, bars and restaurants from around the basin.

Before we get too far down the rabbit hole on this week’s drink, yes, you can order this drink with tequila instead of mezcal. But, I will tell you substituting the Xicaru (pronounced zee-kah-roo) silver mezcal is absolutely more fun and tasteful. If more fun and tasteful isn’t for you, I’ve also got some paint you can watch dry.

Xicaru is the Zapotec word for beautiful and that’s exactly the first thing you notice about this cocktail – its beauty. From the garnished flower and bright green pops of lime and jalapeno against the salt rim and pale white color of the drink itself, it looks almost too pretty to drink. Almost.

Right off the bat you can feel that mezcal smokiness ease its way into the nostrils along with the playfulness of the other ingredients. Almost like a campfire gone wild – bad for Tahoe (no fires, people), but apparently great for margaritas.

The rest of the ingredients (Cointreau, muddled jalapeno and lime, and fresh sour mix) really help to drown out the smokiness. It doesn’t taste as smoky as it smells, but that doesn’t mean it disappears completely. It hangs throughout the sip and when you get the acid and vibrancy from the citrus, combined with the heat from the jalapeno, each drink rolls over the lips like a seven or 11 on a come out roll. AKA: really good for you non-craps-playing folks.

As margaritas go, this is one of the better ones I’ve tasted. It’s not my typical drink of choice, but I’d be more than happy with one of these in my hands (dancing or not dancing) and good conversation to be had. Actually that’s a complete lie – I don’t dance. But I’d sure shuffle my feet for another one of these.

Kalani’s is located at 1001 Heavenly Village Way, Suite 26 in South Lake Tahoe. For food and drink menus and additional information visit them online at or by phone at 530-544-6100.

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