Mexico City's speakeasies are having a momento.
With creative venues that rival the days of actual prohibition, these cocktail-forward clubs offer the ultimate insider experience to anyone visiting 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.
These hidden hideaways feature beats from top DJs and drinks crafted by leather apron'd mixologists. Chemistry, fire, clouds of smoke — even the occasional vial of tarantula venom is part of the art of the finely-crafted cocktails you can try. A night out in any of these five Mexico City's speakeasies will leave you with some serious stories to tell (or not).
Where: Somewhere in Londres, Juárez, 06600
Why you should go: 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, you could easily miss the entrance, hidden behind a flat, seemingly solid black wall that opens only using a keypad. What’s more, the keypad code changes nightly. Inside, the decor is so luxe that the room is filled with red velvet and brass-mirrored walls. And when you’re ready to end your night or head to the next hotspot? You’ll have to exit through a busy taqueria's soda cooler.
Where: Calle Lucerna 34, Juárez, 06600 Colonia Juárez
Why you should go: This place is extra in the best ways possible. Set inside an incredible 1900's mansion, this urban tavern is a blend of industrial-meets-mystical. Mixologists uses techniques and ingredients inspired by medieval alchemy to concoct a menu of “elixirs" meant to offer virtues such as love and fortune. Harry Potter fans (a.k.a. your bravest friends) should try the "Aragog," a martini with REAL tarantula venom-infused grenadine that actually numbs your lips. Weathered skull candleholders and torches on the walls add to the vibe, which draws a glam crowd and occasional liquor salesmen that storm the place dressed as Ghostbusters, doctors, or secret agents.
Where: Calle Julio Verne 93, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, 11560
Why you should go: You can only get into Jules Basement if you have a reso, and even then you need to enter through a faux walk-in fridge. In the back of a bustling rotisserie joint. Filled with casual diners and families watching soccer on the overhead TVs. Below is a whole new world, where the silver spike-covered bar and walls giving a futuristic feel to the near-pitch black underground space. Mixologists use smokers and smoldering herbs to mix drinks with top shelf liqueurs and spirits. If you’re lucky, you may even get to dance with the locals to some live jazz music!
Where: Av. Álvaro Obregón 106, Roma Nte., 06700
Why you should go: Because this is the city's most famous mixology bar! It often tops many world-wide best-bar lists, so it should definitely be on yours. The bar offers seasonal, local ingredients in drinks inspired by cultural elements and poetry. The bar is modeled after history's classic speakeasies, where clever cocktails masked the harsh tastes 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.
Where: CopeHague 6, Juárez, 06600 Cuauhtémoc
Why you should go: On a nearly deserted street, a dark and unmarked stairway leads you to a drink lovers' paradise. Rows of tiny handmade clay jars of herbs and spices line the back of the bar, while Mayan incense cleanses all who enter. Local spins on 1920's classics feature gin or mezcal bases, but kicked up a notch with freshly-ground ginger, sassafras, or hoja sante. Garnishes feature lit rosemary sprigs, floating star of anise, or crushed grasshopper salt, which is actually way more delicious than it sounds.