Words by James Irvine
Mexico City prides itself on a booming bar scene, and after experiencing it first hand there were definitely some highlights from the bars and bar culture that inspired me and made me further appreciate what we do in Australia. Guadalajara, meanwhile, was profoundly different to its bigger sibling city.
400 Conejos and El Gallo Altanero, both in Guadalajara, had a fantastic fun, neighbourhood vibe. 400 Conejos, although relocated since the last time I visited, still had the same ambiance and down-to-earth vibe of a neighbourhood bar that you’d see yourself drinking in every night of the week.
On the other hand, El Gallo Altanero was a completely new experience for me. Run by an Irish/Australian expat, Alan Mulvihill, the bar brought an outdoor terrace space a fun atmosphere, with banging drinks and cranking tunes. Daily menus and frequent guest shifts were on the cards for El Gallo, and it’s seen within the Guadalajara bar community as the spot to go to, to sit and learn.
Mexico City brought the big city vibe, and with that the big city bar budgets were everywhere. Fifty Mils, situated in the Four Seasons Hotel brought with it grandeur and elegance. One could be forgiven for not knowing that the bar has been around since 1994, as the room was well-kept and was busy both on arrival and as we were leaving.
Licoreria Limantour Polanco and Roma both brought a great fun atmosphere and vibe. It was inherent of bar cultures back home – reminiscent of Bulletin Place, Black Pearl and Shady Pines Saloon, with just enough Spanish to feel out and about in Mexico City.
Lastly, Maison Artemisia was another highlight in Mexico City. The corner bar proved a great spot to sit at and enjoy a few ‘Daisy de Santiago’ cocktails and chat to the bar team. These guys were great – hospitable, fun and engaging. A personal favourite spot amongst the Australian congregation that week.
As per ‘drink trends’ noticed along the trip, there were a few standout cocktails at Limantour and Fifty Mils, however these drinks had clear similarities to what we’re doing back home. A focus on native ingredients, produce and spirits was immanent.
Mexico in general had a massive focus on eco-friendly bartending. In Central America, however, it’s not a trend or a craze – it’s here to stay. It was refreshing to see that sustainable practice is universal and bartenders around the globe are all chipping in.
James was lucky enough to experience the wonders of Mexico thanks to the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition. For information on how to enter next year’s competition, head to the Bacardi Legacy website.