The Story Behind The Mexican Firing Squad

The Jack Rose gets the tequila treatment in the Mexican Firing Squad. Despite its outrageous name, it’s a fairly understated cocktail with a straightforward build of blanco tequila, lime juice, grenadine, and bitters. The grenadine provides a punch of tart pomegranate flavor and the drink’s candy-apple-red hue. Meanwhile, the generous serving of bitters keeps the drink’s sweetness on a tight leash, making this a refreshing alternative to a Margarita or Paloma.

The Mexican Firing Squad was invented at the La Cucaracha Cocktail Club in Mexico City sometime around 1937. La Cucaracha was quite a fancy place with a slight nod to Prohibition-era speakeasy seediness. The institution was the brainchild of expat bartenders who fled the States during Prohibition to continue their craft — and bring their recipes — abroad. There were roughly 40 classics on the menu, like the Tequila Sunrise, Between the Sheets, the Manhattan, and the Pisco Punch. The menu pamphlet even advertised “English speaking personnel” and featured a Dapper Dan of a cockroach, sporting a tux and a top hat, puffing on a cigar.

This cocktail was first recorded in 1939 by historian Charles H. Baker in “Gentleman’s Companion Volume II: Jigger, Beaker, and Flask.” Baker wasn’t a bartender, but rather a former merchant who married into the Paulsen mining family fortune, and spent his years traveling, eating, drinking, and writing about it along the way. He found himself in Mexico City in ‘37 where he was “herded into fancy, rather dull places, served too warm drinks.” He and a friend broke off on their own one night and stumbled into La Cucaracha where they got hooked on this drink.

The Mexican Firing Squad is traditionally garnished with an orange slice, a pineapple wedge, and a maraschino cherry, but we’re keeping it low key with a simple lime wheel. While not mandatory, some recipes call for topping this cocktail with soda water, in which case a Collins glass is the recommended serving vessel.


  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • ¾ ounce grenadine
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: lime wheel


  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake until chilled.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

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(200 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 197
Updated: 2024-05-06

Mexican Firing Squad Recipe Video