The Best Of Mexico City’s Secret Bars That The Locals Know

Speakeasies, hidden terraces, unassuming entrances, basements – welcome to Mexico’s latest bar trends. Mexico’s bar scene is blossoming, but only if you know where to look.

What is harder to find is a good cocktail, but the novelty of the trendy and eccentric decor outweighs what is sometimes lacking in mixology. But that is turning around, too, as more mixologists enter the scene.

 Yellow Bird 

This newcomer to Mexico City’s speakeasy scene adds the twist of being a “social drinking club” and offering experimental cocktails. Think activated carbon and matcha, barrel-aged cocktails (the nine-month negroni is deliciously intense), cocktail slushy machines and culinary vacuum-packed techniques for infusing flavors.

The bar’s name is inspired by a drink invented in 1924 – Yellow Bird – and the founding three mixologists – Ricardo Sandoval, Braulio Hernández and Rodrigo Vargas – bring it to life by serving it in a bird-shaped glass.

Once you spot the yellow bird logo on the door, you’ll be transported to an intimate vibe and low ceilings. This tiny bar is set in the basement of a Porfirian-style house, wrapping itself around the counter so almost everyone gets a show from the bartender. You should reserve via Whatsapp (+52 55 6901 7387/55 6495 6379) or a DM via Instagram.

Hanky Panky

Although Mexico never felt the prohibition era, this speakeasy gives you the feeling that it did. Hidden behind a taco restaurant – the waiters being the gatekeepers to the bar – you later emerge from a beer fridge.

Inside, the décor is eclectic with hints of dated luxury, from hunting décor to studded red leather booths. The drinks are among the best in the city, with a focus on author and classic cocktails, earning it a place in the top 100 bars in the world (only three made the list: Licoreria Limantour and Fifty Mills made the top 50). Check their Facebook page for contact details; reservations are recommended.

Zinco Jazz Club

What was once the underground vault for the Bank of Mexico is now a jazz club serving locals in the know. Down the corridor, you can even take a novelty selfie with the old vault door.

A well-dressed host will escort you into the dimly lit black and red bar, a nod to Zinc, the legendary New York Jazz Club. The mood is intimate with tables that wrap around the stage, getting you up close to the band of the day. Singles are equally welcome, and the bar seating gives you plenty of opportunities to mingle.

No genre of jazz is unwelcome, and each visit is an exploration into the world of complex jazz rhythms and experimental sounds. Go early to grab a bite – the menu is varied from tacos to octopus – and the tamarindo mezcalini is a good drink to get you started. You can check out who’s playing, and find contact details to make a reservation (Whatsapp is the easiest). Open Wednesday to Saturday.

Xaman Bar

Prehispanic culture and shaman spirituality are the inspirations for this speakeasy bar. Wafts of burnt sage softly envelop you as you enter this basement via an unassuming concrete stairwell. It’s an instant stimulation of the senses, with dim lighting, background lounge music, modern design and decorations that highlight the mysticism of shamans and the desert.

The cocktails are infused with a mix of rich ingredients and fragrances – like chilis, xoconostle (prickly pear fruit), zapote (sapote), and edible flowers. The focus is to exalt the power of plants and Mexican ingredients you’ve never heard of. Try the group cocktails served in gourds. The cocktails can be more of a decorative novelty than professional mixology, but the experience never lets you down.

It’s not well marked, except for a shaman’s eye above the door. Push through the black unmarked doors, and you’ll be transported into another world. You can find reservation details on their website.

Scotch

Walking down a dark alley is not usually advised in Mexico, but Scotch bar is the exception. At the end of a deserted, dark street you’ll find a door – next to a graffitied mural of Frank Sinatra – which opens to a bustling bar, complete with an open roof and a mezzanine floor to watch the night revelers.

They have a menu of novelty cocktails, plus all the classics, but they boast themselves on having some 40 whiskies in their collection. It picks up late at night, although you can arrive earlier to grab a bite to eat, such as filet and bone-marrow tacos, chicharrón de rib-eye, octopus aguachile, or a simple cheese platter or fries to snack on. Reserve if you want a table.

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