Why you should keep an eye on Mexico
Words by Lorena Seligson (May 2020)
Photography by Peter Sánchez & Manglar Magazine
"There is no way I'm going back to Mexico. I can't stand to be in a country that is more surrealist than my paintings". - Salvador Dalí
And so it is. Mexico is a surreal place and culture. The perfect place for amazing adventures, discoveries, and food. Here you will live many experiences and see many things not often seen. In Mexico surrealism, beyond an artistic movement, is an ingredient in its genetics which gives Mexico that folkloric punch, this are some reasons to keep an eye on this crazy lovely country:
Smells Like Mexican Spirit: The food, the soil, the soul, the aromas, the people, their unique ingredients. Mexico has more than 16 appellations of origin, including Vainilla de Papantla, Chili Habanero, Mango Ataulfo, Coffee from Chiapas and its "liquid spirits", world-famous Tequila and popular Mezcal have their super interesting, charming siblings and cousins such as Bacanora, Tequila's half-brother from Sonora. Pox a "corny" cousin from Chiapas. Sotol, Mezcal's uncle from Chihuaha. Charanda "la tía aguardientosa" from Michoacán and the family keeps growing with Mexican versions of whisky, gin, genever, vodka and even non-alcoholic spirits like Runneght.
Liquid Love: There's a theory that says the first "shaker" was a pumpkin in which Aztecs used to "chill" Cacao for Hernan Cortés. Mexico has always been a very welcoming and warm country. Apart from distillates and hospitality. Mexico has super exciting and unique options when talking about "fermentados". Since thousands of years ago, Pozol, Tejuino, Tepache, Pulque have been hydrating our culture and even nowadays some bartenders use them as ingredients on their menus. Mexican liquors are also getting hot and trendy, such as super popular, loved by bartenders, Ancho Reyes, Yolixpa which is a Mexican medicinal sort of "amaro" and brand new Nixta, a liquor made out of corn, "Sin maíz, no hay país", which means something similar to "no Corn, no Country".
On top: While New York and London have always been on top of the lists. Mexican bars are making some noise. In addition to folkloric and authentic cantinas, there is Limantour, now in the Top 10 of the World's 50 Best Bar list. Hanky Panky one of the first Speakeasies in Mexico City in 65th place. And Fifty Mils, Kaito, Café Ocampo, Madre Café, Nortico, Arca, Hormiga Negra, Dodo, Yellowbird, and many more bars which are now hotspots leading South American bar culture are nominated for Tales of The Cocktail Spirited Awards, not to mention two amazing Mexican figures José Luis León and Claudia Cabrera nominated for International Best Bartenders.
Barra Mexico: The most important Bar Show in Latin America and the first one in the world to have a neutral carbon footprint. Such a fun and enriching event which brings together the entire bar industry. Without a doubt, there's a before and after Barra Mexico in terms of evolution of the spirit business in Mexico.
Unfortunately, sometimes being a bartender, bar owner, distiller, a winemaker in Mexico is a real challenge. Bartenders depend mostly on tips. This means the majority of bartenders can't apply for credit, mortgages, or plan for retirement. For bar owners, there is not so much support from the government, rents are usually high and sometimes they face difficulties with Mexican cartels demanding "protection money". Distillers and winemakers have to pay ridiculous amounts of taxes, however, Mexico is always willing to create, surprise and embrace. A country full of folklore and hospitality with a surrealist charm. Without a question, I would say Mexico City soon will be one of the World's great cocktail capitals.