Where To Drink In Mexico City

It's time to expand your margarita horizons

Though Fifty Mils, the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City, doesn't yet have a World's 50 Best Bars nom, it's likely to get that accolade soon. And that's all thanks to French-born cocktail wizard Mica Rousseau, head bartender of the year-and-a-half-old drinking den that's as comfortable as it is cool. At Fifty Mils, named after every bartender's top tool, the jigger—which measures 50 milliliters of spirits—Rousseau excels in creating progressive drinks that toe the line between Mexican spirits and tried-and-true classics.

Four Seasons guests can sign up for one of Rousseau's cocktail crawls, but if you'd rather go it solo, here's a cheat sheet to some of Mexico City's best bars.

① Xaman

Blanketed in a hazy cloud of copal incense, Xaman conjures the mystical feel of Tulum, with its bohemian-meets-midcentury design and sexy mellow beats. Behind the bar are all sorts of bottles containing tinctures and infusions; drinks feature Mexican ingredients from guava to hoja santa, a sacred leaf. Xaman owes its scene to its owners: same folks behind the ultra-cool clubs Le Baron, in collaboration with local nightlife group Sicario.

Must-Try: Almendra Old-Fashioned, built of bourbon, amaretto, agave and Angostura bitters.

② Licoreria Limantour

Among cocktail geeks, Limantour—which has locations in Roma and Polanco—is Mexico City's most acclaimed destination. Under the leadership of Jose Luis Leon, it was the city's first member of the World's 50 Best Bars, landing on Drinks International's coveted list in 2014. Ever since, the contemporary drinking den continues to earn praise for its lengthy list of thoughtful concoctions, which beautifully combine local and international ingredients.

Must-Try: Margarita al Pastor, made from a "taco" mix of pineapple, chile, lime, lemon, cilantro and blanco tequila.

③ Hanky Panky

When the mood for tacos strikes, there's no better place to wash them down than Hanky Panky. First, however, you'll need to find the place—the address is famously unlisted—and then you'll have to be either a member or hanging out with someone who is. Named for the Hanky Panky cocktail first introduced at the Savoy Hotel in London in the 30s, this Colonia Juárez watering hole is the work of Maycoll Calderon, the restaurateur behind Mexico City hot spot Huset. Inside, there's an L-shaped bar flanked by comfy vinyl chairs and a menu of classic and contemporary libations, all mixed and muddled to perfection by a cast of guest bartenders that changes nightly.

Must-Try: Hanky Panky Cocktail, Italian vermouth mixed with London dry gin and Fernet-Branca. 

④ Parker & Lenox

New Yorkers will immediately notice the La Esquina vibe at Parker & Lenox, a hidden, speakeasy-like bar in the Colonia Juárez neighborhood. Finding it means walking through the kitchen of the modern American restaurant, Lenox, until you've reached a comfortable lounge, which has live jazz, maybe a burlesque performance or two, and a lineup of expertly prepared classic cocktails.

Must-Try: Jack Honey Martini, with whiskey, honey, espresso and an orange twist.  

Jules Basement

Pulling open the door to a walk-in refrigerator is how you make your way into this sleek, black-and-white speakeasy. The drinks change monthly, but expect plenty of offerings featuring local botanicals like hibiscus, agave and passion fruit. Just be sure to make reservations: Despite its hidden entrance, Jules Basement is a consistently popular spot. 

Must-Try: The Mamie Z, made with mescal, ginseng extract, royal jelly and smoked agave syrup and soda.

⑥ Baltra

Take a break from the city's margarita-and tourist-filled cantinas and head to this relaxed gem that's mixing up both classic and new-age cocktails alike. Named after an island in the Galápagos, the Charles Darwin-themed bar gives imbibers the feeling of being in the home of a well-traveled friend—one who serves drinks like the Goldfinch, made with sherry, Becherovka (an herbal liqueur) and pineapple-cinnamon syrup.

Must-Try: The Akia, made with Lillet, tequila and white crème de cacao.

Kat Odell, a freelance food and travel writer, is the author of Day Drinking. Follow her on Instagram at @kat_odell. 

This article was originally published on 3/24/2017 and was updated by Shana Bethea on 5/21/2018.