Best bars in Mexico City
After you make a few phone calls and get the doors to open up, you’ll be greeted by the wide sexy red chairs with bronze rivets, minimalist lamps, dim lighting, and a mirror that serves as a sort of altar for Coley. As I perused the menu, I noticed many cocktails selected and created exclusively for Hanky Panky by mixologists like Ricardo Sandoval (Limantour) and Phillipe Zaigue (Artemisia). I obviously ordered the Hanky Panky and I was instantly teleported to the Savoy as I savored the bitterness perfectly balanced by a sweetness.
There’s an impressive marble bar where the star of the show, Mica Rousseau of Nikki beach Los Cabos and Buddha Bar Mexico, enchants visitors with cocktails. I started with the Inside Manhattan from the Classics menu, made with bourbon, vermouth and Angostura bitters. It’s a classic combination of strong flavors with a new look thanks to the old-fashioned glass it’s served in and the hollow ice ball the bartender cracks open right before serving it.
We like to think of Gin Gin as more a pharmacy than a bar. The menu has lots of concoctions, or healing potions if you will, that tip their hats to the original combo of gin, tonic, and lime. It also has many variations on the classic which make us rethink everything we thought we knew about gin. Our top-three is: the vellocino de oro (gin, rosemary, olives, tonic, key lime tincture, garnished with a key lime slice), the Acapulco Golden (gin, mate and coconut infusion, tonic), and the mexican Pimms (rooibos and berry-infused gin, Cinzano, ginger extract, simple syrup, lemon juice, ginger ale, muddled fruit, edible flower garnish).
There’s a rich collection of ingredients on the bar; vials of fragrant and aromatic tinctures and tonics. The mixologists here are French, Spanish, Mexican and English and they are true shamans of their trade, using their shakers and other tools to prepare mystifying and intense concoctions. The libations are usually of a Mexican base, like Xoconostle, agave syrup, manzano peppers, hoja santa or guava. We suggest the Piedra del Mar, made with gin, wacame seaweed, Galiano, lime juice, Xoconostle, and lemon tea. It’s intrepid and balanced.
Here, cocktails are high science. With drinks that are bitter, sweet, herbal, and incorporate mezcal, gin and bitters in a fusion that evokes the barman of the 20s while simultaneously innovating. It’s all about perpetual motion. It’s not uncommon to find well-known guest bartenders at Limantour and, depending on the season, to participate in themed-contests, like a gin and tonic off or tea-infused cocktails competition. Although the 20-cocktail regular menu has international influences regularly and can transport you to an old bar in Buenos Aires, a simple Scottish pub or an underground dive in Brooklyn.
There are many myths about absinthe, a drink made famous by the Parisian intellectual scene of the early twentieth century. All of which can be denied or confirmed at Artemisia, a bar exclusively dedicated to the wormwood, fennel and anise spirit. Bar space is restricted and controlled through reservations to maintain an ideal atmosphere since the absinthe ritual is best experienced in with a little bit of breathing room.
A brainchild of the creators of Limantour, Baltra is small, has a shorter menu, and is considered “informal” as there are no servers or hosts. But, that’s not to say that the service suffers or that the attention to detail is absent. The inspiration behind this concept was to allow those behind the bar to interact with the customers more closely. There’s a seasonal menu on the chalkboard to the left of the bar that serves as a complement to the regular menu. If you’re lucky, the Mezcal Sazerac will be on it when you come.
To get there, you have first enter through an American cuisine restaurant called Lenox, in the Juárez. Then, you have to cross the restaurant until you find some small doors; open then and walk through a dark hallway. You’ll find yourself in an ample and elegantly designed room, one which would appeal to a contemporary Gatsby, with a long bar, velvet chairs, wooden tables and a red-curtained stage.
There’s a bar where, rumor had it, they served a mean bone marrow. Its name you have to ask twice to get it right. I really was not prepared for the magnitude of what was awaiting on Sinaloa Street in the Roma neighborhood. The dining room on the ground floor had my senses instantly stimulated by the vibrant décor. Everything here is elegant and simulates a patio complete with a green floor with circular patterns that extend up the walls to the celling.
Everything here revolves around the secretive concept. But, don’t get confused, it’s not about elitism so much as it is about being able to sustain a comfortable space where everyone can enjoy a great cocktail, good music, and good company. “If you’re going to throw a party at your house, who do you want to invite? Your friends, right?” says Gerardo Salgado, a founding partner. That’s precisely the idea here, that when you’re here you feel as though you’re passing the time at a friend’s house.
Some of these cocktail bars have no signage, or at least not easily visible signage, nor do they share their address on social media. But they do often appear on lists of the best bars in the world.