Colonia Juárez, Mexico City’s once-seedy red-light district, now oveflows with hip cafes and fabulous cocktails. Head down to this neighborhood on a Saturday night and (besides karaoke and pole dancing) you can enjoy an elegantly mixed mezcal concoction or a heavenly gin drink.
Bringing back a real velvety, speakeasy vibe is Colonia Juárez’s Parker & Lenox, a bar famous for hosting impressive jazz nights at their now relatively well-known—rather than secret—speakeasy. As is to be expected, the relative fame of this bar means you should call ahead to make a reservation (or send them a message via their facebook page) even though you no longer need a secret password to gain entrance. Their cocktail menu is a long list of classic drinks that even Marion Davies herself couldn’t walk away from.
Quickly becoming one of Juárez’s best hangouts, Cicatriz Cafe is cool during the day but cooler at night, with a great list of originally designed cocktails and an intimate space that makes you feel like you’re part of the in-crowd. Some of our favorite creations are the Forrest Fenn with absinthe, coconut, and lemongrass tea and the Tiburón with Tanqueray gin, an orange peel, thyme, and an avocado leaf. Get there early to get a good seat inside.
Located in a corner of the luxurious central terrace of the Four Seasons hotel, Fifty Mils’ award-winning mixologists seem to work with ease as they mix and shake cocktails from behind the bar. Though their classic drinks are essential, you’ll want to try something from their list of personal creations—just wait until they slip in some beef blood or dehydrated carrots or cardamom into a seemingly normal cocktail! Don’t forget to order something with mezcal or tequila; you are in Mexico, after all.
This stalwart mezcalería has a grand total of six locations across the capital which makes it both convenient and reliable. Their space in Juárez is tight and, like many of their other locations, usually always packed. La Botica is the perfect place for those first few mezcal cocktails of the night—guanábana juice, clamato, almond liqueur, nothing is off-limits for mixing with any of their over 50 types of mezcal. Just like other La Botica locations, you can choose to either sip your mezcal straight, with half beer to wash it down, or with light snacks to keep you sober for the next stop.
One of the most recently raved about speakeasies in the Mexico City cocktail scene is the members-only Hanky Panky. Retro and underground, this upscale word-of-mouth haven is located in a suitably out of the way spot—rumor has it the location is hidden within a run-of-the-mill fonda, behind an unassuming fridge door, but we can neither confirm nor deny this. Moodily lit and minimalist, Hanky Panky also boasts an exquisite and exclusive cocktail menu. If you want to get in without a membership, go on a Tuesday but phone first to make a reservation.
Hidden in plain sight, in the depths of a basement near one of the city’s top hotels, Xaman is another spot you’ll want to check out if you’re a fan of a decent cocktail. With French mixologists (or xamanes) taking the helm, you’re guaranteed an alternative and classy drinking experience that incorporates pre-Hispanic plants and herbs into each drink with ease. The décor also embraces a back-to-basics appeal while remaining fresh and comfortable too—plants and natural wood are the order of the day.
The initial appeal of Taberna Luciferina lies in the décor of the Porfirian townhouse the bar is housed in—from the terrace to the iconic round bar in the center, the ornate and atmospheric light fixtures to the comfortable seating areas. The drinks aren’t half bad either, and the cocktail menu is brief but well-curated. Basically, if you want to feel like you’ve stepped back in time and are hobnobbing with the aristocracy that once inhabited this part of Mexico City, there’s really no better place. Food is also served.