Gone are the days when the idea of having cocktails in Mexico City meant either sticking to the tried-and-true classics like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, or—ugh—downing sickeningly sweet, fruity concoctions like rum punches or syrupy martinis. The city, like many others around the world, is experiencing a golden age of mixology, and these days everything from basil leaves to mole bitters to freshly pressed beet juice is being incorporated into the city’s most delicious creative libations.
The mixology teams behind the city’s best cocktail bars have amped up the innovation, by making the most of locally made spirits and locally harvested ingredients like fruits, herbs, and spices. And these places don’t just offer excellent drinks; they also strive to provide all-around unique drinking experiences. At the spots on this list, the ambience, decor, music, and crowd are ingredients considered just as important as the ones flavoring your cocktails.
Inspired by French bon vivants, this chic, cozy watering hole is dedicated to absinthe, and actually has its own blend custom-made in France. Though the green fairy does have a few cocktails made in her honor, let the award-winning bartenders surprise you with their seasonal creations using gin, mezcal, bourbon and other liqueurs.
The folks behind this hip multi-level house in Colonia Roma were some of the first mixology pioneers in the city. While patrons used to complain that the carefully mixed drinks took too long to arrive, now, the much savvier crowd of thirsty guests gladly waits for concoctions like the Bohemian Tonic (Tanqueray London Dry, Becherovka, cinnamon, grapefruit bitters and tonic).
Named after a the first independent woman who appeared in the Bible, this bar pours delicious if questionably named libations like the San Francisco Homeless, made with vodka, pineapple, cranberry and orange juices and lager, and served in a bottle inside a paper bag to honor its name. On the food front: cheese and charcuterie plates, salmon tartare, and chicken wings with a special habañero-chocolate sauce.
To get to this cleverly concealed speakeasy, you’ll need to head through the refrigerator door of La Surtidora restaurant. Inside, an intimate black-and-white space with wooden and silver accents serves as the backdrop for mixology lessons, live jazz sessions and all-around coolness. Try cocktails like a mezcal Negroni, La Pinta (Zacapa 15 rum, port wine, lime juice, simple syrup and angostura bitters), or Falda Escocesa (gin, Drambuie, cucumber, lime juice and rose syrup).
Bookworms will be pleased by this cool, low-lit Condesa joint, where gin-and-tonics are inspired by the namesake author’s most iconic characters. The Zooey is made with organic basil and lime; the Holden Caulfield features peppermint and ground black pepper. Not a gin fan? Try the excellent, not-too-sweet Old Fashioned.