Speakeasies are globally popular and infinitely cool, but these secret, underground bars with their weird entry rituals and great cocktails can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Sadly, very few manage to maintain that prized enigmatic edge, while also simultaneously achieving longevity and financial success. Even so, like many other global destinations, Mexico City has plenty of these word-of-mouth hotspots to try out; here’s your guide to the Mexican capital’s top speakeasies.
Often considered the capital’s original, Jules Basement remains one of the best speakeasies in town. Tucked away in, as the name implies, the basement of a restaurant, you simply open a fridge door next to the kitchen and descend into its moodily lit, monochrome world – don’t forget to add your name to the list though, or you’ll be denied entry. With a convivial atmosphere and a stellar line up of signature cocktails – the house martini is divine, as are the mezcals – this is a speakeasy you’re bound to remember.
Another of the city’s long-standing speakeasy favourites is the literarily named Poe, a concept bar inspired by its namesake’s most famous poem – ‘The Raven’. This isn’t gothic in the sense of the darksubculture, although it has a touch of moody whimsy about it when you enter. Speaking of entering, it remains an elusive if popular destination, and you must call the number specified on their social media pages to get a reservation. If you make it inside, try their delicious house cocktail appropriately named – you guessed it – The Raven.
The most recent and raved about speakeasy on the Mexico City scene is undeniably the members-only Hanky Panky. Retro and underground, this upscale word-of-mouth haven is even located in a suitably out of the way spot – rumour 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. 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 Tuesdays but phone first to make a reservation.
With absinthe as the specialty spirit of the house, you know you’re in for a good night. Maison Artemisia is hidden away in the streets of this Roma neighbourhood and gives off a nostalgic hint of the old-fashioned, while maintaining a casually cool and up-to-date feel. Here, they’re known for their range of cocktails that go beyond your standard Cosmo and far surpass the fan favourite Sex on the Beach. Instead their house mixologist whips up unique alternatives that will have you coming back to this aesthetically pleasing speakeasy every week.
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.
Bringing back a real speakeasy vibe (in some ways) is Parker & Lenox, which is famous for hosting impressive jazz nights at their now relatively well-known – rather than secret – speakeasy. As is to be expected then, the relative fame of this bar means you don’t need a reservation, nor do you have to indulge in ritualistic routines in order to gain entry. Having said that, do arrive early if you want in on the action, because you’re guaranteed a night of nostalgia and classic cocktails at this 1920s-themed speakeasy.