A cocktail lover’s guide to Mexico City

Food & drink

A cocktail lover’s guide to Mexico City

Cinco de Mayo comes just once a year – but you can celebrate mescal and margaritas anytime in CDMX

Adam Hurly

BY Adam Hurly4 May 2017

There’s no such thing as sensory overload in Mexico City. It’s more vibrant than any other place, no debate there, but that vibrancy quickly becomes addictive: the more you see and taste, the more you crave. In fact, after visiting, chances are you’ll feel a sensory underload everywhere else you go.

When you return home, the thing you’ll recall most clearly – even before the unparalleled hospitality, the life-validating meals and brightly coloured buildings – is the cocktails. CDMX’s drinking scene puts everywhere else to shame, thanks to the abundance of inexpensive, flavour-infused, artfully adorned concoctions. For years afterwards, the faintest whiff of mescal may be enough to transport you back to the Mexican capital…

To help you float through your visit, here are five of our favourite Mexican cocktails – and where to drink them.

Mescal margarita, Páramo bar, Mexico City, Mexico

Photo by @globalfoodquest

Mescal Margarita at Páramo

Your CDMX memories – or lack thereof – will be largely sponsored by mescal. Roma Norte’s night-time cantina Páramo – located above snack stop El Parnita – generously pours the agave spirit (and just about everything else) once its downstairs operations close for the night. Order the mescal margarita; you’ve had plenty with tequila, but this is the current favourite of locals and visitors alike. One sip and it all makes sense.


Jamaica-Juice Mescal, Leonor, Mexico City, Mexico

Photo by @nathaliaaranza

Jamaica-Juice Mescal with Worm Salt at Leonor

Mexico City is teeming with underground dance clubs, and the cocktail offerings are far better than any house pours you’d find back home. Bypass the conventional vodka tonic; you’d be remiss not to indulge in a worm-salt-rimmed mescal cocktail, like this one with Jamaica juice – hibiscus tea, that is – at the Hipódromo-based nightclub Leonor. And get used to the worm; most mescal bottles have one submerged inside – and plenty of other cocktails are rimmed with cricket salt. Stop flinching – just shut up and dance…


Madame Kong, Parker & Lenox, Mexico City, Mexico

Photo by @mondblumek

Madame Kong at Parker & Lenox

Head to Juarez and keep your eyes peeled for Lenox on Calle Milan. It may look like an American diner on the outside, but venture through the restaurant and down the hall and you’ll find yourself in Parker, a 1930s-inspired speakeasy that’s all jazz and velvet. And cocktails, of course. Cosy up with the Madame Kong, a pepper-infused gin and tonic that will wind you down and perk you up simultaneously.


Carajillo, Contramar, Mexico City, Mexico

Photo by @penelope_gil

Carajillo at Contramar

Ok, so you’re actually going to visit Roma Norte’s Contramar for the city’s most outrageous and delicious seafood – seriously, GO GO GO. However, we suggest you stay for an equally impressive dessert, chased with a coffee-infused carajillo (it’s iced with a whisky, rum, or brandy base). You’ll see one on most cocktail menus – but Contramar does everything best.


Sparkling Pome, Gin Gin, Mexico City, Mexico

Photo by @ginginsteakbar

Sparkling Pome at Gin Gin

CDMX is known for its tequila and mescal, but the gin offerings hold their own against these broodier liquors. Don’t miss Gin Gin, in Roma Norte, for its live music and predictably well-endowed gin menu, featuring cocktails such as the Sparkling Pome: It’s a gin, champagne, and pomegranate blend, topped with – yes – cotton candy. You certainly won’t forget this doubly sweet cocktail, nor will you forget the new perspective you have on mixology; CDMX sets the bar high.


Featured image is Gin Gin