The Mexico City Guide
It feels like Mexico City is going through a major moment, where all the things that used to make it such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, are just that much better now. We’ve always loved the tacos and the incredible street food that you can find on practically any corner, but now chefs like Enrique Olvera at Pujol and Jorge Vallejo at Quintonil are deconstructing classic recipes and taking them to the next level. Then there’s the art scene, where it’s no longer just about iconic 20th-century artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but about new, world-class art institutions like the Soumaya, and the Museo Jumex that have both landed in the last five years. Even tequila has possibly been outdone by hundreds of boutique mezcal brands that spring up on an almost monthly basis. The list goes on. Basically, Mexico City, or CDMX—as it’s now known—just got a whole lot awesomer.
The ComradeEmilio Castelar 149, Polanco | +52.55.5280.2195
The highlight at this trendy, upscale mixology bar/restaurant is the terrace bar, where groups of dressed up friends, and suited up colleagues wind down the work day late into the night. While the restaurant does serve up a solid panini or croque monsieur, people come here for the drinks. As in a lot of city bars of the moment, gin is in, and their Tuka's Flamingo, made with watermelon juice, is the one to try. It's located in upscale Polanco, with its own valet parking, a bouncer at the door, and several trendy, dimly-lit eating and drinking lounges inside.
The Rooftop at CondesaDFAvenida Veracruz 102, Colonia Condesa | +52.55.5241.2600
The neighborhood where CondesaDF is located is host to some of the more hipster-y bars in town but that's definitely not the case at the fourth floor terrace here. Up among the jacaranda trees, guests perch on a few comfy lounge chairs and munch on the offerings from the "Smart Sushi" menu. The cocktails are fairly standard—and good—but it's the views of the turn of the century architecture nearby, and the tranquility that make the hotel's terrace a perfect escape. Later on, after a few cocktails, head down to the hotel's underground nightclub which tends to get packed on the weekends.
Romita ComedorAvenida Alvaro Obregon, Colonia Roma | +52.55.5525.8975
While the Romita is really a restaurant more than a bar, dishing out excellent coastal dishes like langostine tacos and ceviches, its open-air terrace makes it an ideal drinking spot. Here, surrounded by hanging plants and vines, in a striking, airy dining room, guests are suspended above the hustle and bustle of the Roma neighborhood below. Excellent cocktails, made with fresh ingredients, make it worth having a long sobremesa—basically, a long hang-out after the meal is over.
Licorería LimantourAlvaro Obregon 109, Colonia Roma | +52.55.6414.2685
In the past few years, more and more mixology bars have popped up in the city's most upscale neighborhoods from Polanco to Condesa, and the bar on the forefront of the trend is the Licoreria Limantour. Here, the bar staff are seriously skilled mixologists, and the menu is pages long, with a number of seasonal options that changes often. Whether at the Polanco or the Roma space, Mr. Pink is the cocktail to go for, made with gin, fresh grapefruit juice, and basil.
Zinco Jazz ClubMotolinia 20, Centro Histórico | +52.55.5512.3369
All the major jazz acts that come through the city book at least one night here, which is why more often than not, the Zinco makes for a solid evening's entertainment. Aside from the good music, this spot oozes retro charm. Hidden away in the Centro, on the bottom floor of a restored Art Deco bank building, the small space feels like an authentic old New York jazz bar with crimson velvet curtains, a few intimate club tables, and a long bar serving up old school cocktails.
King Cole BarPaseo de la Reforma 439, Cuauhtemoc | +52.55.5228.1818
At their on-site bar, the St. Regis has imported its signature cocktail from New York, the Bloody Mary, and given it a local mezcal twist. At this cozy and elegant space, dotted with cushy dark green couches, the vibe is buttoned up and super civilized—a welcome break from the somewhat rowdier Roma and Polanco bar scene. Rather than a DJ, the music tends to come from a live piano in the corner, or the occasional jazz quartet. They also serve a lot of serious whiskeys.
Gin GinOaxaca 87, Colonia Roma
Mexico City is going through something of a gin renaissance and this airy, garden oasis of a bar in the heart of Colonia Roma seems to be at the epicenter of the trend. They craft various delicious botanical concoctions around the main ingredient—among them, the Velloncino de Oro, a rosemary infused gin cocktail, and the Mexican Pimms, made with fresh fruit and home-made ginger ale. It's been such a hit in the Roma that they've also just opened up in Polanco.
La BoticaAlfonso Reyes 120, Colonia Condesa
The city is somewhat overrun by mezcal bars, as the smoky agave-based drink has sky-rocketed in terms of popularity, but La Botica was one of the originals, and continues to support small, independent distilleries, which is why it makes our list. Their mezcals, which they serve neat with orange slices and traditional bar snacks on the side, are sourced from all parts of the country and like serious sommeliers, the staff are all passionate about provenance and tasting notes. It's a good first stop for a long night out, and it's also a great place to get an education on the ever-popular drink.
Felina BarOmetusco 87, Colonia Condesa | +52.55.5277.1917
The Condesa neighborhood is packed with hipster bars that are now past their prime, but Felina is tucked away enough that it still feels like a discovery. With its specialty rum-based cocktails and mid-century furnishings—which got a major revamp this year—it has a little bit of a Mad Men feel. The bar's arty crowd heads here after work and on lazy weekend afternoons to enjoy the drinks, watch the skilled bartenders, and listen to the great playlists of obscure soul which the bar is famous for. Get there late and you'll be standing.
Jules BasementJulio Verne 93, Polanco | +52.55.5280.1278
Inspired by the trend for speakeasy bars in NYC, Jules Basement jumped on the bandwagon and brought the concept to Mexico in 2012. And like its NYC predecessors, there are rules here: You must make a reservation in advance, you must enter through an industrial refrigerator door at the back of a taqueria, and once inside the striking, leather-clad, subterranean bar there are no Jägermeisters, bad beers, or Red Bull-based drinks allowed. All of this makes for a pretty civilized evening enjoying both classic cocktails like Manhattans and Martinis and some pretty amazing riffs on these, like the mezcal laced Campari cocktail. Tuesdays are the best night to make a reservation as there's always live jazz.
Salon CovadongaPuebla 121, Colonia Roma | +52.55.5533.2922
By day, the Covadonga's denizens are generally old Spanish guys playing dominoes and eating traditional Asturian delicacies like tortilla espanola, but by night it's a whole different demographic that flocks here. Young local hipsters arrive around 7pm to begin their night out with a few beers—and shots—among friends. It's an old cantina—a traditional drinking den—and the futbol is always on TV, the aging waiters wear prim black vests over starchy white shirts, and the interiors haven't had a makeover in what feels like 50 years. It's comforting to know, though, that even in the Roma, one of the hippest parts of town, some places never change.
Maison ArtemisiaTonala 23, Colonia Roma | +52.55.6303.2471
While the restaurant at this restored, turn of the century "maison" serves perfectly good French food and wine, the real draw here is the bar upstairs, where aside from making a number of pretty distinctive cocktails—including the Velloncino de Oro, a refreshing and enormous rosemary infused gin cocktail—the focus really is on absinthe and all its paraphernalia. Fittingly, at 7pm, a green light turns on at the entrance, meaning it's time to head up to the Belle Epoque-themed living room with its velvet covered couches, stuffy old fashioned furnishings, and suspender-clad bartenders. Get there early for a chance to get upstairs, as there are often long lines.
AuroraAlvaro Obregon 126, Colonial Roma | +52.55.5531.5832
Skip through the dimly-lit and often over-crowded cocktail bar and head straight through the secret door into the open air patio, where gin cocktails are the mainstay pretty much all day long. There's often live jazz in the patio, and light Italian fare is served from morning till late at night, when the bar becomes a scene that spills onto the street. Primetime here are the afternoons when you can skip away for a quiet cocktail with friends—and live background music if you're lucky.