The Best Tequila and Mezcal Bars in the United States
By Nickolaus Hines

While centers of tequila and mezcal culture run deep in states like California and Texas, the first mezcaleria in the United States popped up in New York City when Casa Mezcal opened in 2009. Today, the Big Apple is home to a number of agave-focused bars and restaurants, but few can match up to The Cabinet. Led by Greg Boehm of Cocktail Kingdom and Katana Kitten, The Cabinet keeps more than 300 mezcal expressions in stock, with a wide range of other agave spirits like tequila, sotol and raicilla. Here, you’ll find limited-production bottles and spirits made with rare types of agave that even mezcal fanatics have little experience with (think cenizo, papalometl and tobasiche). With that access comes a catch, however: getting a seat at this small hideaway can be a challenge.

The Cabinet, New York, NY

One agave spirits-focused bar is a cherished find. Two bars in the same location is next level. Upstairs, Barcoa’s cantina is a lively spot where instructor-led Tuesday salsa and bachata classes open up the opportunity to dance off those drinks. In the smaller downstairs basement where reservations are recommended, it’s easy to spend hours chatting about your preferred spirits and letting the bartenders help you find your next favorite. This dual-bar offering means you can fit the vibe you’re looking for on any particular night, and the different drink options at each means there’s always something new to explore. And if you find something you really enjoy, the bar also serves as a retail store so you to take home those hard-to-find spirits. From the Oaxacan art to sinks made from the famous Volcan de Tequila (the volcano where some of the most cherished agaves for tequila are grown), Barcoa is agave-focused through and through. The bar team makes trips down to Mexico to learn about tequila and mezcal production, so you can trust their knowledge is first-hand.

Barcoa Agaveria, Phoenix, AZ

Casi cielo translates to “almost heaven,” and for agave fans in Atlanta, the name is apt. With the largest mezcal selection in the city, Casi Cielo obviously has an impressive lineup of agave spirits. It also fills that list out with specialty mezcal and tequila cocktails (traditional and otherwise) for those who don’t want to sip their drink neat. While there’s nothing wrong with sitting at the bar for a drinks-only visit, the Oaxacan-inspired food menu will have you spending more than just the span of a couple beverages here. Because the only thing better than sipping a rare mezcal is doing so while eating mole.

Casi Cielo, Atlanta, GA

One sign of the thriving state of agave-focused bars is how many new places are opening up as the first in the state. La Piña opened in Milwaukee’s Harbor District in 2023. This small space has more than 70 tequilas, as well as a healthy mezcal selection, and is staffed by knowledgeable bartenders who can help you find something nice to sip on or whip up a cocktail for you. Owner Patrick Todd has made many a tequila-focused trip to Mexico, so he opened La Piña as a place for agave spirits lovers in Wisconsin. Part of his goal includes hosting tequila and mezcal tasting events, cocktail classes and, of course, delicious drinks. Take note of Tuesdays, when La Piña has 20% off of tequila flights and the tequila of the week.

La Piña, Milwaukee, WI

The tone at Mezcalito is immediately set by the “Ode to Mezcal” mural by local artist Brian Barneclo out front. Though if that doesn’t do it, the towering wall of spirits on the bottle shelves behind the bar will. Mezcal is in the name, but there’s no shortage of tequila that the well-informed bartenders can pull from, recommend and mix into a cocktail if you’re not in the mood for neat pours. If there’s room, grab a seat at the bar for the best experience. Try one of the custom mezcal tastings, featuring bottles pulled from the “mezcal altar” of 100-plus bottles, or stop by for Tequila Tuesday to explore all things tequila. For locals or anyone who foresees a number of San Francisco stops in their near future, Mezcalito’s bottle locker program is one of the best ways to keep your favorite find (or multiple finds, as there’s room for more than one bottle) accessible to the last drop. 

Mezcalito, San Francisco, CA

There is a seemingly endless number of mezcals to try in the NYC area if you know where to look. But at Little Oaxaca, the mezzanine mezcalera at Fandi Mata, you can find options like La Clandestina 40 and Enmascarado 54 that are imported for the restaurant and can’t be found anywhere else stateside. The bar serves as a separate entity from the Mediterranean focus of the main restaurant. More than 50 artisanal mezcals are on offer at the 12-seat bar, as well as cocktails if you’re looking to mix things up. With a selection curated by Milos Zica, Fandi Mata’s partner and beverage director who previously worked at renowned NYC bar Employees Only, you can count on finding something new and interesting with every visit.

Little Oaxaca, Brooklyn, NY

It’s difficult to beat drinking at La Doña when looking for mezcal in Denver. Outside, a patio takes advantage of the city’s famous 300 days of sunshine. Inside, a dimly lit room with various types of agave painted on the walls is perfect for snowed-in drinks and escaping the summer heat. La Doña is a sister concept to the restaurant Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina from owner and head chef Silvia Andaya, so guests of the bar can order food. Let the staff guide your decisions if you’re feeling indecisive, or simply turn to the Captain’s List — a specially curated selection that highlights a wide diversity of mezcals. It’s here that you’re also likely to find your next favorite mezcal: every Wednesday, the staff picks five or more bottles centered on a theme of region, mezcalero or agave species, and those picks are available for half price.

La Doña Mezcaleria, Denver, CO

If there’s one ethos that runs through everything about Las Vegas, it’s that more is more. At Mama Rabbit, that means more agave spirits — in fact, the largest selection of tequilas and mezcals in the city. This bright 4,400-square-foot, multi-room ode to agave is located in Park MGM and opened in 2019. It’s led by Bricia Lopez, whose family also runs the Oaxacan food-focused Los Angeles restaurant Guelaguetza. The name refers to the ancient goddess of agave and fertility, Mayahuel. According to legend, Mayahuel birthed 400 rabbits that stayed rightly intoxicated as they survived off of the fermented agave drink pulque. Another tale posits that she fed mezcal to the rabbits, and they turned into agaves later in life. There may not be a tequila and mezcal for every one of Mayahuel’s rabbits, but the multi-page menu (including four pages of tequilas and two pages of mezcals) definitely has enough options to keep you endlessly preoccupied. This being Vegas, there’s live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.

Mama Rabbit, Las Vegas, NV

More than 400 agave spirits grace the menu at this Los Angeles institution that opened in 2010. The focus is on artisanal producers in small towns in the states of Oaxaca and Chihuahua for mezcal, and the states of Jalisco and Tamaulipas for tequila. The name is a reference to the traditional way that mezcal producers test their spirit’s alcohol: when the mezcal is shaken, las perlas, or pearl-like bubbles, form, and producers can ballpark the alcohol content with incredible accuracy by the size of the bubbles and how fast they dissipate. At Las Perlas, the main shaking will be of agave-focused cocktails for those who don’t want to sip the spirits neat. A small food menu of Mexican classics, beers and agua frescas are available as well.

Las Perlas, Los Angeles, CA

Yes, this is a bar in Epcot on a Disney property, and you need to buy a park ticket to get in. Don’t let that fool you, though — La Cava del Tequila has one of the most extensive tequila menus in the country with more than 200 to choose from (including bottles exclusive to the location), along with cocktails, beer and wine. You can dive deeper into the spirit with a tasting guided by a certified tequila ambassador. This being Epcot, guests can indulge in the various tequilas of their choice and then eat around the world at the many other dining themes. Though no one could blame you for sticking to the tequila instead, as there are more than enough options to keep you occupied.

La Cava del Tequila, Orlando, FL

Tobala is a small bar-within-a-bar in Austin that focuses on mezcals made with wild agaves like tepextate, jabali, madre cuixe and more. Flights come in copitas with sal de gusano (traditional worm salt), while full pours come in the classic veladora glass with the cross on the bottom. Here, mezcal is the only thing on the menu. Tobala is in the upstairs part of Whisler’s and can quickly get packed, as it’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays for walk-ins. When you get a seat, avoid being overwhelmed by the choices and let the bartenders guide your tastings.

Tobala, Austin, TX