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La Cuevita
Photograph: Jakob N. LaymanLa Cuevita

The best bars in Los Angeles for tequila, mezcal and all things agave

Need a little liquid accompaniment for that taco? Here are the best bars to score some quality tequila, mezcal and more.

Written by
Sylvio Martins
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L.A. is definitely no stranger to the delights of tequila and mezcal, regardless of whether you enjoy sipping it neat or mixed into a smoky cocktail. But with Mexico only a few hours away, the city’s bar scene is constantly evolving as new imports continue to shake up drink menus across town. Other agave-based spirits like raicilla, bacanora and sotol are now becoming more and more commonplace—and are introducing patrons to regional specialties and nuanced flavor profiles. From Santa Monica to Highland Park, here are the bars and restaurants currently offering the best menus for all things agave.

RECOMMENDED: Visit more of the best bars in Los Angeles

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

Chef Jose Acevedo’s Mercado has become a familiar name within L.A.’s Mexican food scene, now spanning five locations across town from Pasadena down to Manhattan Beach. Their Third Street location, with its semi-outdoor patio, is ideal for enjoying some delicious small plates and sipping on any of their 50-plus bottles of tequila, which range from crisp blancos to full-bodied extra añejos. The vegetarian choriqueso dip or cauliflower tacos al pastor pair well with the excellent house margarita. There’s something special about a classic recipe being executed perfectly, but we also recommend their flor de jamaica cocktail that comes with reposado tequila, lime, a lemongrass simple syrup and floral hibiscus for some bright tartness.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

Bar Amá is a casual DTLA cantina with a delicious Tex-Mex menu that’s hard to describe in just a sentence or two. By that, we mean it offers a whole lot of everything, including dishes like roasted squid tostadas to one very good queso dip, which makes it a great spot for all kinds of eaters looking for a post-work bite. If you’re planning on stopping by on the weekend with friends for a drink and some loaded nachos, make sure to reserve a table to beat the equally hungry crowds. Bar Ama’s cocktail menu has the standard margarita, but also a great Mexican negroni with mezcal to add a layer of smokiness to the bitter campari. Don’t pass up the Nacho Vidal either; its tequila blanco pairs nicely with campari and its chile-lime shrub and honey notes. Those interested in lesser-known spirits can sample the menu’s options for bacanora—another agave spirit with an earthy, peppery and somewhat sweet finish. If you’re not interested in drinking it neat, order a side of sangrita to help you get it down.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Echo Park
  • price 1 of 4

Walking into Bar Flores feels like you’re entering an intimate gathering inside someone’s home. The Echo Park establishment began as a cocktail pop-up before eventually settling at its beautiful Sunset Boulevard location in 2019, which includes a brick-laden back patio filled with greenery and colorful lights. The drinks here are just as beautiful, such as the popular mezcal cocktail which is a combination of tomatillo, serrano chili and lime flavors with mezcal and a crunchy tortilla and serrano salt rim. If you’re in the mood for tequila, their layered tequila tonic blends Earl Grey, raspberry, and lime notes with tequila blanco for a citrusy drink with just the right amount of sweetness. Bar Flores also offers plenty of options to enjoy mezcal and tequila by the shot if you’re just looking to sip it neat and take in the sunset on the patio.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Torrance
  • price 2 of 4

At its Torrance originator and Culver City and West Hollywood expansions, Madre’s menu is filled with a variety of fantastic moles, as well as other Oaxacan classics like crispy tlayudas, memelas and generously stuffed tamales. All three also boast the title of having the largest mezcal collection in America, with over 400 bottles to sample. The house’s smokey margarita pairs perfectly with the menu’s offerings and comes with charcoal-infused mezcal espadín, sweet agave, house chili liqueur, fresh lime juice and sal de gusano, as per tradition. Flights are also an option and great for anyone looking to try other agave-based spirits: Madre’s puntas y colas flight comes stacked with sotol from Durango, raicilla from Jalisco, mezcal from Guerrero and another mezcal also from Jalisco. Here you can compare and contrast the smokiness of mezcal with the grassines of sotol and vegetable qualities of raicilla, all while eating some exceptional carnitas tacos.

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  • Bars
  • Mezcalerias
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

Las Perlas is a dimly lit Oaxacan cantina in the heart of DTLA that’s great for casual dates and drinks with friends who share a similar affinity for mezcal. With over 450 bottles of agave spirits, this bar has an excellent seasonal cocktail menu and some boozy agua frescas to beat the L.A. heat. Try the Copa de Silencio, a refreshing combination of pineapple juice, mezcal and lime juice, or the fresh pressed sandia juice that can come mixed with your choice of tequila or mezcal for an extra kick.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

The experience of grabbing drinks at La Cuevita surely lives up to its name (which translates to Little Cave.) Now, you won’t find yourself quite literally in a cave, but the entire bar feels somewhat like a dark cellar with flickering candles as its primary source of lighting. The Highland Park establishment also has a nice outdoor patio and fantastic happy hour every day from 5 to 9pm, when cocktails run for a solid $5. We recommend their signature La Cuevita that combines mezcal, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and ginger beer. Their Sino Paloma is also a speciality, with Sino Silver tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, lime and soda for some fizz.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Frog Town
  • price 2 of 4

This Frogtown spot’s popular mid-century modern patio is perfect for enjoying one of their Sonoran-style carne asada tacos (or two or three). The drinks portion of Salazar’s menu is enormous and consists of agave spirits categorized by their plant species. Tequila, mezcal and leafy sotol are all in stock, and the cocktail section ranges from common finds to artisanal creations. Try their mezcalita de piña that comes with pineapple juice, lime, mezcal and a savory bacon-salt rim to contrast the sweet notes from the fruit. Ranch Water, a Texas special, is also on the menu and comes with your choice of tequila or mezcal with a wedge of lime served in a bottle of sparkling water.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Beverly Hills

Mirame puts a contemporary twist on traditional Mexican cooking, but not without incorporating some California flair in its menu. Dinner options at the Beverly Hills spot include Puerto Nuevo langoustine tacos, a truffle and artichoke tostada, and a tender rabbit tamal covered in mole poblano. Along with your meal, you can enjoy Mirame’s 100% Mexican wine list or any of their agave-based cocktails, including the playfully named El Chingon drink. This margarita-esque beverage comes with Fuenteseca seven-year reserva tequila, tangy quince, soursop and smoke from burned palo santo to create a flavorful and extremely fragrant flavor profile. We also recommend the Midnight Marauders, which consists of El Tesoro añejo, black curaçao, activated charcoal and chamomile that softly lingers in the back of each sip.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Boyle Heights
  • price 2 of 4

If a Sunday Mexican-style brunch and craft beers sound like your ideal afternoon, then Xelas is the spot for you. This Boyle Heights bar has an impressive list of California and Mexican brews, as well as some great cocktails to go with any of their delicious food offerings. The tequila-based La Plaza is a personal favorite and comes with a mix of pineapple juice, lime and raspberry syrup. Xelas is a lively spot with live DJ sets and cultural events regularly on the calendar, so come prepared for a fun atmosphere and a few drinks.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • West Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

You already know this place for being the famed plant-based Mexican restaurant that took L.A. by storm. But besides their very good vegan nachos or tasty chicharron tacos (made from oyster mushrooms, of course), Gracias Madre also happens to have a great selection of mezcals. Whether you’re looking for espadín, raicilla or sotol, Gracias Madre has lots of it. If you’re leaning more towards their signature cocktails rather than singular shots, the Oaxacan Old Fashioned is wonderful: Tequila reposado mingles with some fiery mezcal before it gets a few splashes of rich mole bitters and some heirloom corn.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

Nativo in Highland Park has one of the best Mexican-style happy hours in town with creative contemporary bar foods and delicious drink offerings. Their mole-covered tater tots and street-style tacos call for a refreshing cocktail, like their Cucurrucu, a tequila reposado, grapefruit soda, hopped grapefruit bitters and pamplemousse combo that’s best enjoyed in their lively outdoor patio. Tequila and mezcal flights are also on the menu and come with your choice of three spirits, but we suggest the “ofrenda” upgrade if you choose to partake. The additional $6 charge includes seasonal citrus, chapulines (or grasshoppers), sal de gusano, a piece of Oaxacan cheese, salty sunflower mix and the kitchen’s house-made sangrita to chase your drinks with.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sawtelle
  • price 2 of 4

Although Hermanito deems itself to be a “bar-forward” establishment, this Sawtelle spot serves great food options like tender birria queso tacos and spicy wings covered in a nutty salsa macha. The cocktail menu includes the Myra, which comes with jalapeño-cucumber infused mezcal, fresh watermelon and spicy tajín to complement the drink’s crisp and sweet notes. Those searching for a bolder take on agave can opt for La Mala Vida, which pairs both mezcal and tequila with black walnut bitters and sea salt to round out the drink’s bright flavors.

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