In my extensive travels and professional exploration of fine spirit establishments, dive bars and cantinas through Latin America, I must say without a doubt that I am left in awe at the growth and the level of cocktail expertise found in the country of Mexico. In regards to craft cocktails and the vast selection of unique spirits, over a short period of time this country has made a mark on the industry that I hold so dear.
The country of Mexico has had a long standing vibrant history of culinary accolades and accomplishments worldwide, spawning some of the world’s best and innovative chefs, cooks and restaurant tours. The grand Mexican landscape allows for a very diverse menu from central American influenced cuisine, like Oaxaca mole, implementing traditional Mexican flavors like cacao and oja santa. Not be left in the culinary cuisine shadow, Mexico’s craft cocktail scene has in recent years created a name for itself. The craft cocktail culture in Mexico has been bubbling for years and is ready to explode. From its diverse cultural influences to its wide array of natural ingredients, Mexico is creating a unique identity of its own to rival other premier cocktail giants worldwide.
Mexico’s cocktail elite have come together and united to create a home to what has become the mecca of Mexican cocktail culture. Equipped with an arsenal of knowledge of agave spirits such as Mezcal, Tequila, Pulque, Sotol and others they continue to drive the creative ideas that we have come to find commonplace in cocktail creation. These individuals not only honed their skills in pueblos across Mexico by training their palettes and techniques, but have also incorporated skills from abroad. These cocktails explorers have studied and been educated by some of the best bars worldwide and have returned to impart this knowledge onto their counterparts in Mexico.
Mexico City has served as the canvas for these young emerging and highly talented bartenders and mixologists to practice their craft. Mexico city’s densely populated streets serve as an infinite well of consumers and patrons who are not only willing, but also excited, to partake of these creative libations. The capital city of Mexico serves as a crossroads of pop culture and influential force of creativity. It is also the home and birthplace to many phenomenal individuals such as artist and female icon Frida Kahalo, Golden globe and academy award-winning actress Lupita Nyongo, acclaimed film director Mario Van Peebles and musician Alejandro Fernandez who has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. Whether through music, art or food, Mexico City is effortlessly accessible to up and coming cocktail mavericks.
WHERE TO GO
Trends begin here in Mexico City and the bar has been set with trailblazing locations like Licoreia Limantour under the leadership of Jose Luis Leon. This location was not only the first craft cocktail themed establishment, but also the first to land on the prestigious list of fifty world’s best bars. Seemingly opening the floodgates for the cocktail culture, we are viewing today. Even traditional historic locations like La Opera, which have been around since the late 1800’s and who even hosted Pancho Villa in 1910 have followed suit in attempts to create and cultivate a cocktail menu. The changing of the guard is evident as currently there are over fifty well-respected and curated bars to enjoy an array of cocktails ranging from rooftops, speakeasies, and traditional sangria filled cantinas to the high profile molecular gastronomy inspired cocktails.In conjunction with the current influx of interest and consumption of Tequila worldwide, Tales of the Cocktail, having hosted events in Mexico city over the past few years, completes the roundup of high quality Mexican bars. It is now primed to take its place atop the ranks and has become widely accepted by spirit brands, distilleries and industry professionals alike.
Mexico has truly transcended the stigma of being exclusively known for spring break margaritas and cheap tequila shots and has become a highly desirable and uniquely creative destination of the elevated cocktail connoisseur. Excitingly the evolution has grown and it can no longer be contained by this massive city. More and more establishments where you can enjoy a meticulously crafted cocktail are popping up across the entire country.
Below is a list of my favorite locations that must be experienced firsthand:
- King Cole Bar- Paseo de la Reforma 439, Cuauhtémoc, 06500 Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX, Mexico.
- La Opera- 5 de Mayo 10, Centro 0600, Cuauhtémoc, CDMX, Mexico
- Licoreia Limantour-Avenida Alvaro Obegobn Roma Norte 106 Del. Cuauhtémoc, 00700, Mexico
- Olivera Cocktail bar- Libertad 1852 Americana, 44160 Guadalajara, JAL, Mexico.
- La Capilla-Mexico Centro 4600 Tequila, JAL, Mexico