Note: The following two part article was compiled by guest author GastronautaDF while I go on extended happy hour. NG
I’ve often heard from tourists who visit Mexico that a fine cocktail is hard to come by. It was less than 10 years ago, when traveling through the country, that I couldn’t find a decent screwdriver to save my life. Nowadays frothy fruity margaritas and candy-colored martinis are available in most cities, but the Mexican capital has a newfound appreciation for the art of mixing drinks. Whether upscale designer mixology, or pre-prohibition classics, this trend is beaming with creativity and personality, adding a new layer of excitement to the Mexican flavor landscape. Bartenders are also adding a local twist by bringing forward national spirits like mezcal and tequila, and local flavors like fresh chilies, cilantro, and unusual botanicals. Here is a list of the outstanding cocktail bars to visit in Mexico City.
Licorería Limantour is not just the leader of CDMX mixology, it’s a temple to modern cocktails. In fact, it is included on the World’s 50 Best bar list. Located in both Roma and Polanco, Limantour’s concept is simple: designer cocktails that use all kinds of dynamic ingredients, including fresh herbs, flowers, fruits, syrups, shrubs, spices, and rare foreign spirits. The result is a fashion show of drinks with stunning presentation, precise flavor combination that make your taste buds gasp with delight. The sophisticated palates and discipline of the bartenders are up to par with a Michelin chef. My go-to favorite is a cocktail called Mr. Pink made with grapefruit juice, gin, rosemary syrup, basil, and grapefruit bitters. Mexican flavors abound in creations like the margarita al pastor,
which plays with ingredients found in the classic al pastor tacos. The result is a tequila-based drink with pineapple juice, muddled cilantro, and a touch of serrano pepper. The complexity grows from there, and a changing seasonal menu keeps our love affair forever fresh.
Álvaro Obregón 106, Roma
Oscar Wilde 9, Polanco
Hours: Monday thru Wednesday, 6 p.m.- 1 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday 6 p.m. – 2:30 a.m., Sunday 6 – 11 p.m.
Maison Artemisia – This cozy upstairs lounge is like a Toulouse-Lautrec painting: French, bohemian, and sexy. Artemisia makes brilliantly detailed cocktails, but absinthe is the lady of the house. Served with full regalia, you can order a variety of absinthes in many combinations. Customers return as well for the remarkable gin and tonics. The bar is originator of the salmoncito, a grapefruit/campari gin & tonic drink that suddenly is found everywhere in town. The pezoncito – little nipple – is a flirtatious raspberry, gin, egg white and lime cocktail, while the nahual is a daring mixture of herbaceous hoja santa, mezcal and chili liqueur.
Tonalá 23, Roma.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 7 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Drinks: $130- $200
Lilit – The giant faux rhino head on the wall embodies the spirit of this place: artsy, relaxed, and eclectic. Legend has it that Quentin Tarantino was once here and loved one of their signature drinks, the San Francisco homeless which is a vodka, beer, orange and cranberry libation bottled and served inside a brown paper bag. It’s precisely the touch of whimsy that gives their drinks an extra kick. Like the London tea, which features gin and ginger and is served in a dainty teacup with a touch of lemon. This is not a place that is about precision or perfection, but rather an experimental mishmash of coolness. The double Bellini, for example, is a molecular drink featuring champagne with peach liqueur, lavender caviar, and a side of peach foam. One of my favorites is called the southern, which is a surprisingly effective mixture of mulled kiwi, fruit and bourbon.
Chihuahua 118, Roma.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 6 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Drinks: $80 – $150
Patio Aurora. “Upscale comfort” is how Aurora looks at their cocktails. Their approach is to make drinks that feel friendly and familiar, but with a sophisticated edge. Gin and tonics are the staple, and they add a touch of flavor with perfumed syrups and infusions made in-house. If you are having dinner in the patio, the bartender will roll out a cart and prepare your G&T table side. But my stand-out cocktail is called simply Fresh, a combination of Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, dark rum, and fresh ginger.
Alvaro Obregón 126, Roma
Hours: Tuesday 1 – 11:30 p.m.
Wednesday -Saturday 1 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sunday 1 – 7 p.m.
Drinks: $110 -$140