Everything tastes better smoked. Liquor is no exception, which is why mezcal—the Mexican spirit made from agave plants roasted in earthen ovens—is taking over the top shelves of America’s best bars. Spicy, smooth and robustly flavored, it’s superb for sipping or for mixing in deeply layered cocktails. We tapped Philip Ward of New York’s Mexican -mixology bar Mayahuel to harness mezcal’s power for a refreshing cocktail: Ron’s Dodge Charger. An homage to Ron Cooper (car buff and founder of Del Maguey mezcal), the drink is -perfect for toasting with on a starry autumn night.

Three kings of mezcal that will set your cocktails afire

The Del Maguey brand is mezcal’s matador; Chichicapa’s earthy pepper and spice make for profound cocktails.

Tangy citrus lies beneath a slow, satisfying charcoal burn, ideal in intricate, savory concoctions.

Caramel and vanilla balance the smoldering wood taste of this reposado (lightly aged) mezcal. Rich enough to be sipped neat or on the rocks.

Ron’s Dodge Charger
- smoked salt
- 1½ oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal infused with chiles de árbol
- 1 oz. fresh -pineapple juice
- ¾ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¼ oz. agave nectar
Rim a chilled cocktail glass with smoked salt. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for a good five -seconds. Strain into glass and enjoy.

Stay fresh
Skip the cans and bottles. Taking the time to make fresh pineapple and lime juice is key to mixing a vibrantly flavored cocktail.

Get salty
One part La Boîte á Epice smoked salt to two parts kosher salt, pulsed for one second in a coffee grinder, will add depth to your rim.

Bring the heat
To amp up the spice and add more flavor, let six chiles de árbol soak overnight in your mezcal. Strain them out to stop the burn from building.