Speakeasies of Mexico City: Five Hotspots You Can't Miss
By Sascha Zuger
Mexico City's speakeasies are having a momento. With creative subterfuge rivaling the days of the actual prohibition, experiencing these cocktail-forward clubs lends an insider flavor to any visit to this lively capital. Share the daily password to slip into a walk-in freezer in the back of a rotisserie joint, stumble out of a soda machine to a taqueria crowd yelling and pointing at the newcomer, or become a member to slip through the doors of a historic mansion.
A night out in Mexico City's speakeasies will leave the adventure travel buff some serious stories to tell (or keep secret). These hidden hideaways feature beats from top DJs and the talents of leather apron'd mixologists. Chemistry, fire, clouds of smoke, even the occasional vial of tarantula venom, are part of the art of the finely-crafted cocktails on offer.
Somewhere in Londres, Juárez, 06600
The only way to snag the address to the exclusive Hanky Panky is to make a phone reservation or apply for membership. Even with the address, it would be understandable to take pause at the entrance, hidden behind a flat, seemingly solid black wall that opens via a keypad. The keypad code changes nightly. Inside, a polished crowd enjoys the luxe red velvet, brass-mirrored club. The namesake cocktail of Italian vermouth, Fernet-Branca and gin was first served at The Savoy in London. But The Savoy never asked patrons to exit through a busy taqueria's soda cooler.
Calle Lucerna 34, Juárez, 06600 Colonia Juárez
Set inside a 1900's mansion, this urban tavern revels in an atmosphere of industrial-meets-mystical. Mixologists uses techniques and ingredients inspired by medieval alchemy to concoct a menu of "elixirs" said to offer virtues such as love and fortune. The brave can try the "Aragog," a martini with tarantula venom-infused grenadine that numbs the lips. Weathered skull candleholders and torches on the walls add to the vibe, which draws a glam crowd and occasional liquor hawkers that storm the place dressed as Ghostbusters, doctors, or secret agents.
Calle Julio Verne 93, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, 11560
Jules Basement is accessible only by advanced reservation, through a faux walk-in fridge in the back of a bustling rotisserie joint filled with casual diners and families enjoying fútbol on the overhead TVs. Below is another world, with the silver spike-covered bar and walls giving a futuristic flair to the near-pitch black underground space. Mixologists use smokers and smoldering herbs to enhance a wealth of top shelf liqueurs and spirits. Sometimes a jazz band elevates the space, where every syncopated beat reverberates through the eclectic but friendly crowd.
CopeHague 6, Juárez, 06600 Cuauhtémoc
On a nearly deserted street, a dark and unmarked stairway leads to a drink lovers' haven. Rows of tiny handmade clay jars of herbs and spices line the back of the bar, while Mayan incense burns to cleanse those who enter. The local variations of 1920's classics feature gin or mezcal bases amped with freshly-ground ginger, sassafras, or hoja sante (a local, earthy "sacred leaf" often used in Oaxacan mole verde). Garnishes feature lit rosemary sprigs, floating star of anise, or crushed grasshopper salt. This is the first Latin America joint by the infamous Le Baron bartenders of Europe.
Av. Álvaro Obregón 106, Roma Nte., 06700
The city's most famous mixology bar, which often tops many world-wide best-bar lists, offers seasonal, local ingredients in drinks inspired by cultural elements and poetry. The bar's theme hinges on history's speakeasies, where clever concoctions masked the harshness of stiff grain drinks. The founder, award-winning bartender Jose Luis Leon, has vowed to visit each of the world's top 50 bars to absorb what makes each so memorable. Don't miss fan favorites like the fruity gin "Mr. Pink" and the hibiscus mezcal, served in a clay carafe.
Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CIBC or their partners.
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