Sampling the local food and drinks is a major highlight of traveling anywhere in the world for the first time and visiting Mexico is no different. Although Tequila, Mezcal, and sugary Mexican Coca-Cola are perhaps some of the only Mexico drinks that are renowned on an international scale, there are so many excellent national beverages that you can try here.
Many Mexican drinks, like atol, and pox have fascinating indigenous roots, and sampling them can help you gain a deeper understanding of Mexico’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Others, like raspados, aguas frescas, and horchatas, are simply refreshing and delicious to enjoy on a hot, humid day in Mexico. (Of which there are many).
This article on the best Mexico drinks has been written by a British Travel Writer who has been living in Mexico for the past two years. (Me!)
During my time here, I have traveled through 10 different Mexican states extensively. (Mostly solo) and have taken a lot of joy (and gluttonous greed) in sampling as many Mexico drinks, foods, and snacks as I can during this time.
In this post, we will take a look at some of the best Mexico drinks to look out for during your trip. It won’t be a challenge to seek these out – just keep your eyes peeled for interesting-looking tianguis and street stores selling bottles of cold beverages and be open-minded about trying new and different things when you see them on the menus of cafes, restaurants, and bars.
43 Tasty Mexico Drinks to Try
Atol is a hot corn and masa beverage that is served across Mexico, particularly in the wintertime. You will find it served in all parts of the country, although it is believed to have Mayan origins.
The drink has a thick, almost porridge-like consistency and is often served with pieces of piloncillo on the side. Piloncillo is a type of brown whole cane sugar that is chopped into chunks and sucked like a hard boiled sweet.
There are also regional differences in the way that masa is prepared. For instance, in Sinaloa, Sonora and Northern Mexico, it has a rich cinnamony taste. However, in Jalisco, it doesnt really have any distinguishable strong flavors
Rusa tequila cocktail
In the villages of rural Jalisco, you will encounter Mexican street vendors serving Rusas and a number of other fruity tequila-based cocktails. “Rusa” means “Russian” in Spanish, but there seems to be no further story behind the reason for that particular name.
The drink is usually phenomenally strong and loaded to the max with tequila. However, it somehow manages to still feel very refreshing, perhaps on account of all of the fresh chopped fruit that is placed inside it.
Rusas are made by cutting up chunks of fresh pineapple, orange, mango, and celery and placing it inside a glass of grapefruit soda mixed with tequila. A dash of chamoy (a tangy fermented fruit salsa) and hot sauce are added, and the rim is salted with salt and chili.
A candy tamarind stick and a slice of orange or lime are added, and you are supposed to bite the tamarind stick while you sip the Rusa. The drink is tasty in itself so you can ask for an alcohol-free version if you are driving, don’t drink, or want a fun-looking drink to entertain the kids.
Rusas also double as snacks because while you drink, you can also scoop all the tequila-soaked pieces of fruit out and eat them. Yum!
Be on the lookout for Rusas in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and the towns and villages of Jalisco along the Ruta de Raicilla. (San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota, Yerbabuena, Navidad, etc).
Raspados are one of the most refreshing Mexico drinks to drink on a hot, humid summer’s day. They are essentially just flavored ice and are comparable to Italian granitas.
You can choose from a selection of homemade flavored syrups that can be anything from maracuya (passion fruit) and mango, to vanilla or chocolate flavor. The vendor will then fill a cup with ice chips, and then pour a generous amount of the flavored syrup inside, along with soda water.
If you should ever find yourself visiting the Puebla state capital of Puebla de Zaragoza, you can sample raisin liquor at one of the very first places it was served. As the name suggests, the tipple is made from raisins and has a fruity taste.
It is typically served in little shot glasses, although it is meant to be sipped and savored slowly. (Although you can knock it back like a Tequila slammer if you prefer – we are not judging!)
There are a couple of places around Puebla city where you can try raisin, but arguably the best experience is in sampling it at “La Pasita” – one of the oldest cantinas in town.
The bar first opened its doors way back in 1916 and is today managed by the grandson of the original founder. The space is tiny.
There are no seats in La Pasita and patrons stand around an old wooden bar decorated with antiques, vintage posters, and any manner of other ramshackle odds and ends. The drink is 40 pesos a shot and is served with a cube of goat cheese and a raisin on a cocktail stick inside.
Cantaritos are one of the most popular types of tequila cocktails that you will find across the state of Jalisco in west-central Mexico. The drink is usually served in a clay jar known as a “cantaro” but sometimes larger portions are served in a huge bowl intended to be shared among 2-3 people.
Cantaritos are made by blending various different citrus fruit juices together and are often considered as the prequel drink that inspired palomas. Freshly squeezed lime juice, orange juice, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, club soda, tequila and a dash of lemon combine to make this delicious fruity drink.
If you head to watch the famous El Parian square mariachi in Tlaquepaque, you will note that a lot of the bars that encircle the stage serve huge cantaritos paired with botanas (small, meze-style tapas plates). The drink also makes a great accompaniment to seafood and fresh, raw dishes like shrimp aguachile or ceviche.
If you like coffee-flavored cocktails like espresso martinis or White Russians (a la Big Lebowski), you will love Mexican carajillos. The original carajillos hail from Spain, where they were enjoyed as a cheeky alcoholic coffee beverage just like Irish coffee is enjoyed in the northern and western parts of Europe.
With the colonization of Latin America, the carajillo made its way to Mexico where it changed and adapted to satisfy the local palettes and became the version of the tipple that it is today. Mexican carajillo is made by pouring Licor 43 – a Spanish liquor from Cartagena, Spain, over crushed ice and adding a shot of espresso.
You will find this effortlessly sophisticated cocktail served all over the country – from the restaurants of elegant Yucatan haciendas, to Mexico City rooftop bars, and old-fashioned cantinas in the backstreets of Campeche city.
On the topic of alcoholic coffee beverages, did you know that Kahlua was invented in Mexico? This is great news if you are partial to a White Russian or 7 as you will note that multi-liter bottles of Kahlua are much cheaper in Mexico than they are in Europe and other parts of the world.
The name “Kahlua” is actually a Nahuatl word which means “House of the Acolhua People” and the drink was invented in the state of Veracruz. Pedro Domecq first invented Kahlua back in 1936 and it began being exported to the US in the 1940s.
You will find it stacked on the shelf of most Mexican bars and you can enjoy it poured neat over ice, combined with milk and vodka to make a White Russian, or you can ask the expert mixologists at the bar to create a bespoke cocktail for you based on the kind of drinks that you like.
Rompope is a thick, creamy beverage that could easily be considered as being the Latin American answer to eggnog. Like many other excellent contributions to Mexico drinks and food culture, rompope was actually invented by nuns in Puebla, Western Mexico during the 17th century.
Today, the brand image depicts a nun at the front of the bottle. The traditional flavor of Rompope is the almond flavor, which is very popular at Christmas time.
However, you can also purchase Rompope in pistachio, pine nut, clove, orange, pecan, vanilla, and nutmeg flavors. The drink is inspired by the “Rompon” eggnog that the Spanish colonizers brought across from Spain, and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Traditional Soft Mexico Drinks
Soft drinks in Mexico are a real treat for when you are looking to quench your thirst. When you are looking for a non-alcoholic beverage in a lot of countries, your options are usually only carbonated drinks like Coca-Cola and Sprite, water, or maybe a commercial, concentrated orange juice.
Bars and restaurants in Mexico virtually always serve agua frescas – drinks made by blending bottled water with fresh fruit juice. If you head to a bar at night, there are usually always delicious mocktails on the menu and even if there aren’t, the bartenders are often happy to prepare something bespoke just for you.
Agua de cebada
Agua de cebada is the Mexican answer to barley water but even if you are not a fan of barley in your own country, I would urge you to try agua de cebada here.
Prepared with evaporated milk, cinnamon, condensed milk, and vanilla, it is altogether different, creamier, and much more tasty than the type of barley water you can find in the West that is prepared with just a splash of water. The barley grains are crushed into a fine powder known as “cebada” and then mixed with water, milk, and sweeteners.
Although you could argue that all of the condensed and evaporated milk detracts somewhat from the healthiness of the drink, Mexicans will tell you that cebada is stacked full of vitamins B and K, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Unfortunately, you don’t really see agua de cebada as often as you encounter other agua frescas. You will find it sold at streetside stands in Puerto Vallarta, but it is mostly found in Northern Mexico.
(I have never seen it in the Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo, or Chiapas in all my time of living in southeastern Mexico). The street vendor in Los Mochis, Sinaloa pictured above supposedly serves up the very best agua de cebada in town and people queue up specifically to order the drink from him.
His sign reads “often imitated, never duplicated” and he prepares the drink in front of you using his various canisters and containers.
Agua de horchata y coco
Horchata is plenty delicious enough as it is. However, a wonderful Northern Mexico version of the beverage is made by blending the horchata water with condensed and evaporated kinds of milk and then adding chunks of coconut.
Some hip artisan coffee bars, restaurants, and coworking spaces throughout Mexico City and wider Mexico have started adding a new addition to their menus in recent years: dirty horchata. Dirty horchata is essentially just cold brew coffee mixed with horchata and it is every bit as creamy and delicious as it sounds.
For added flavor, you can often choose to add different jarabes (syrups) like vanilla and caramel.
On the beaches of the Yucatan, the Pacific Coast, and Baja California, vendors walk up and down the sandy coastline selling meringue, fresh coconuts, and other treats. You can usually buy a huge coconut for as little as 20 pesos.
The vendor will hack off the top of the coconut with a machete and give you a straw (popote) to sip the cool delicious coconut milk through. When you are done, you can head back to the same vendor, coconut in hand, and he will hack it up into little pieces for you to eat, before drenching it in chamoy and hot sauce.
Horchata is a delicious, creamy, refreshing drink that is made from rice. It has a consistency similar to milk and is served cold, and poured over ice.
Horchata is typically flavored with cinnamon, giving it a sweet flavor that is comparable to Turkish salep. This drink is enjoyed across Latin America and is believed to have been introduced into Mexican food and drink culture from Spain.
Fascinatingly, delicious horchata has a history dating back thousands of years. The Spanish would drink horchata made with nuts (horchata de chufa), particularly in Valencia and the southern parts of the country.
When it was introduced to Mexico, locals started making it with rice instead. It is believed that horchata originated in North Africa around 2400 B.C.
Even the Romans would drink it. (They affectionately referred to it as hordeata.)
You will find horchata served at most restaurants, taquerias, and food stalls in Mexico. There are bottled, branded versions sold in some stores and eateries but the best horchata is that which is homemade.
There is such a significant difference in quality between the two types that you cannot even compare them.
Tepache is a unique Mexico drink with a flavor that is quite unlike anything else that you will have tried in Mexico or elsewhere. The drink has been a part of Mexican culture for thousands of years – dating back to the pre-Hispanic era.
Today, it is made by fermenting the peel and the rind of pineapples and then sweetening them with brown sugar and cinnamon. Historically though, tepache was made with corn.
In the pre-Hispanic days, tepache was known as tepalti. This was a fitting name; tepalti literally translates to “corn drink” in Nahuatl.
Tepache is such an integral part of Mexico’s history and food culture that the Ancient Mayans would even use it in their ceremonial rituals! When modern tepache is made, it is then fermented for several days before being served cold.
Obviously, the fermentation of fruit leads to the creation of some alcohol. But tepache is still a non-alcoholic drink (unless you want to add something into it to make a tepache cocktail!)
You will find variations of the traditional tepache recipe all over the country. In Oaxaca, you will find countless variations and it seems as though every restaurant owner makes tepache in a different way.
Sometimes, different fruits are used instead of pineapple. In Durango, some people add agave distillates.
Agua frescas make a fruity, refreshing drink to enjoy in Mexico on hot days – aka, almost every day in most parts! They are made by blending fruit with water, fresh lime, and a dash of sugar.
You will find countless variations of agua frescas all over the country.
Some of the most popular versions are agua fresca made with pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, peach, strawberry, cucumber, watermelon, and lemon. It is also very easy to prepare these Mexico drinks yourself if you want to implement some Latin flavor into your home kitchen!
Like other Mexico drinks, agua fresca has roots stemming back thousands of years. It is said that the drink was actually created by the Aztecs with fruits that they gathered along the waterways of the Tenochtitlán.
They added ice from the dormant volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl. Quite a way to prepare a chilled ancient beverage, eh?
Homemade lemonade (limonada) is a staple in many Mexican households and you will find it served in most restaurants. The recipe is simple: freshly squeezed lime juice paired with syrup to sweeten, cold water, and ice.
(Mexican lemonade is prepared with fresh limes, not lemons because the yellow, American-style lemons are actually really difficult to find here! Confusingly, limes and lemons are both called limones in Mexico).
You will often find Mexican lemonade flavored with cucumber, hierbabuena (mint), chaya, basil, and other fruits and herbs.
Like Mexican limonada? Chances are you will love Mangonada.
This drink goes by many different names in Mexico. You will also see it sold as Chamoyada, Mangoneada, and Chamango but they are all the same thing.
Mangonada is as photogenic as it is delicious. You won’t be able to miss the street food carts that sell this beverage.
Mangonada is a vibrant orange and red swirly drink with chili salt around the rim. It is essentially something between a drink and a dessert and is made with fresh mango, sugar, lime juice, and Chamoy.
Chamoy is a Mexican syrup that is made from pickled fruit and is commonly doused over slices of apple, mango, and other fruit. The origins of mangonada are hazy but it is quite a recent invention.
It is said that Mangonadas started being sold on the streets of Mexico city in the 1990s when chamoy became popular. It is essentially a mango slushie with a spicy kick.
Agua de Jamaica
Agua de Jamaica is a hibiscus tea that is found at most restaurants and bars and is typically served cold over ice. (Although you can enjoy it hot).
The drink is blood red in color and just like horchata, the homemade versions are infinitely better than the bottled store-bought varieties. Jamaica is actually pronounced “Ha -maica” because the letter “J” actually has a “H” sound in Spanish.
Jamaica has a distinctive, cranberry-like flavor and despite the massive popularity of this drink in Mexico, as the name suggests, it originates from the nearby Caribbean country of Jamaica.
During colonial times, beautiful red hibiscus flowers were imported from Jamaica to Mexico, locals started to make the drink, and the rest is history.
If you want a thick, sweet, sinful milkshake in Mexico, you want to order yourself a malteada. Like anywhere else in the world, these can be made with milk, ice cream, or a mixture of the two.
You will find malteadas served at cafes and ice cream/dessert parlors all over the country. However, in hip Mexico City, there are several hipster milkshake spots that you should add to your radar if you are going to be spending any amount of time in CDMX.
At L’Encanto de Lola (C. de la Amargura 14, San Ángel, Álvaro Obregón, CDMX), you can order cereal milkshakes prepared with your favorite childhood cereal. You can order virtually every type of cereal shake you can think of – from Lucky Charms to Fruit Loops.
La Michoacana is a dessert/ice cream chain that you will find all over Mexico. Despite being a chain, each individual La Michoacana store is independently owned and stocks different items.
The quality of their malteadas is excellent and you can usually find unique and delicious flavors like Ferrero, chocolate brownie, and cardamom milkshakes to die for.
Batidos are a unique, fruity Mexican version of a standard milkshake. These Mexico drinks are essentially halfway between a milkshake and a smoothie.
They are not quite as unhealthy as having a chocolatey Malteada made with ice cream and drenched in chocolate sauce. But equally, they are not quite as healthy as having a pure fruit smoothie.
Batidos are enjoyed all over Latin America and in some Hispanic communities in the United States. They are made with milk and fresh fruits.
Virtually any fruit you can think of can be used to make batidos, as long as they are tropical and exotic, and exude all the magic and aromas of the Caribbean coast. Papaya, mango, pineapples, and regional fruits are popular favorites.
Licuados (Fruit Smoothies)
If you want a standard healthy fruit smoothie in Mexico, you want to order yourself un licuado or un smudi. With such an abundance of fresh, tropical fruits, it is easy to find very good smoothie places in Mexico or buy excellent quality fruits at local markets to prepare them yourself.
You can keep it simple and order something like pure fresh orange juice (Naranja) or you can order a mixture of tropical fruits blended with ice and yogurt.
The great thing is that smoothies are very cheap here due to the abundance and low cost of fruit in Mexico.
Mexican Coca Cola
Mexicans are crazy about Coca-Cola. You will note that in virtually every town and city, the local bodegas (convenience stores) are usually painted white and red with the Coca-Cola logo or they display some form of Coca-Cola mural or another.
As a matter of fact, Mexico is the world’s highest consumer of this beverage. Statistics show that Mexico is the country with the world’s highest soft drinks consumption overall, with over 630 8-ounce servings per capita per year.
Depending on where you are from, you may notice a subtle difference in the flavor of Coca-Cola in Mexico versus that in your own country. In the United States, coca-cola has been made with high fructose corn syrup since 1980.
This is because manufacturers realized that they could make significant cost savings by switching to corn-based ingredients. In Mexico, Europe, and countless other parts of the world, sugar is still used in Coca-Cola.
Many believe that this makes the drink both tastier and more natural. In some parts of the country, Coca-Cola is even used in spiritual and religious ceremonies.
For example, in the indigenous town of Chamula in Chiapas, Southern Mexico, locals head to the local church to visit curanderos (Mexican witch doctors) when they are sick. The whole family typically visits the church together and it is customary for them to sip carbonated drinks like Coca-Cola and force out as many burps as they possibly can (!)
The act of burping is believed to expel any evil from within. This particular church is often affectionately nicknamed “the Coca-Cola church” on account of this practice.
Pina con chaya
A unique and particularly refreshing agua fresca to look out for while embarking on a Yucatan travel itinerary is pina con chaya. The chaya plant is essentially the Yucatecan answer to spinach and it is native to this specific part of Mexico.
It is a green leafy vegetable that is rich in vitamins and nutrients and makes the perfect addition to your beverage on a hot summer’s day. To make pina con chaya, fresh chunks of pineapple and orange are blended with water and ice.
Honey or sugar can be added to sweeten if preferred. Chaya is also said to contain some health benefits, too.
The plant is used across Mexico and wider Central America to treat a broad range of conditions. It is said to reduce inflammation, aid diabetes, lower cholesterol, and high blood pressure, reduce fever, and aid gastrointestinal disorders.
Jarritos is a brand of super-sweet, candy-like soda that was created by Don Francisco Hill in the 1950s. There are eleven fruity flavors to choose from but particularly tasty and popular are the Jamaica (hibiscus) flavor and the tamarind (a tropical fruit).
Hill, originally from Mexico City, created the fizzy beverages with the intention of creating a soda that didn’t lose the fruity flavor and refreshing feeling you get when you sip an agua fresca. The name Jarritos comes from an old Mexican tradition that consisted of drinking water in jars made of clay.
This explains the brand’s logo which depicts a pile of clay jars on the drink label. You can buy a bottle of Jarritos for between 8 and 21 pesos, depending on the size.
Mundet soda can be found in Oxxo, Walmart, and basically all supermarkets and convenience stores across Mexico. The brand was founded in 1902 by Arturo Mundet, a Catalan businessman who relocated to Mexico City from Spain.
Similar to Jarritos, Mundet Soda was inspired by Mexico’s beloved agua frescas. The drink comes in just two flavors: Sidral ( red apple) and Manzana Verde (green apple).
You will often find that Mixologists in bars across the country use Mundet sodas. Think of it as the Mexican version of Fanta Apple but much tastier.
Mexican Cocktails and liqueurs
If experiencing the nightlife or simply sitting by the beach with a chilled alcoholic beverage in hand is something you hope to do in Mexico, you will be pleased with the selection of alcoholic drinks in Mexico. You can not only find some of your favorite liquors, beers, and classic drinks from around the world but there are also a lot of unique alcoholic Mexican drinks too.
There is no alcoholic beverage more quintessentially Mexican than the michelada. Many locals will cite this beer cocktail as being one of their favorite drinks, and a lot will swear by it as being an effective hangover cure.
Micheladas do share some similarities with Bloody Mary cocktails, but they are made with beer instead of Vodka. To make one, mix tomato juice (preferably Clamato) with beer, Worcestershire sauce, Salsa Maggi (soy sauce), and a dash of hot sauce, and then add chili salt around the rim.
To foreigners, the drink might sound utterly bizarre and disgusting. However, if you do treat yourself to the experience of trying a Michelada, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! As you travel across Mexico, you will find that people prepare micheladas differently in different areas of the country.
It also goes by different nicknames in different regions. For instance, in the Yucatan, they call it an ojo rojo (red eye).
In some places, people add candies, pieces of fruit drenched in hot sauce, potato chips, and any manner of other weird and wonderful edible decorations to their micheladas. At certain festivals and celebrations, you will find micheladas sold in fun souvenir mugs that you can keep and take home.
You can also find different flavored micheladas served in some places, but the traditional version is the tomato michelada.
Mezcal is a wonderful Mexico agave drink that, for some reason, hasn’t gained the same international recognition and acclaim that its sister drink, tequila, has. Like tequila, Mezcal is a spirit that is distilled from the agave plant but the flavor and the production process are much different, and mezcals usually have quite a smoky taste.
Any spirit that is distilled from the blue agave plant is a mezcal so technically speaking, tequila is a form of mezcal, although tequila can only be made from the Blue Weber agave (agave tequilana or other blue agave), whereas mezcal can be distilled from any type of agave.
Mezcal is processed differently from tequila and it is not typically aged.
It is made in a number of Mexican states. However, Oaxaca is widely regarded as being the home of mezcal since 90% of the production takes place here.
Some of the best independent mezcal producers await in this region, although mezcal can also be produced in the states of Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Puebla, Michoacán, San Luís Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas.
The proper way to serve and enjoy mezcal is to serve it neat in little glasses called veladoras. It is sipped and savored, not downed in one like a tequila slammer.
Mezcal is typically much stronger than tequila – often with an alcoholic proof of over 45%!
If you can, try to tour a mezcal plant in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca. A bottle of Mezcal also makes a great souvenir from your trip to Mexico for your loved ones back home.
Tequila is essentially the national drink of Mexico. This is the country’s most famous alcoholic beverage and when you travel to Mexico, you will notice that there are a seemingly infinite number of local tequila labels.
Indeed, there are scores of excellent tequilas produced locally that never get shipped internationally or make it north of the border. Tequila is made from the agave plant agave tequilana.
Most tequila is produced in the northern state of Jalisco, particularly in and around the little town of Tequila. The drink is essentially a product of designated origin.
This means that for something to be labeled as tequila, it must have been produced in the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, or Tamaulipas. Tequila is produced by baking and juicing the core of the agave tequilana plant.
This juice is then fermented in barrels until it becomes alcohol. Brands like Circo and Jose Cuervo are perhaps some of the best-known names in tequila on an international scale, but there are so many excellent tequilas that you can try locally in Mexico.
In particular, look out for El Tequileño and Siete Leguas D’Antaño extra añejo. Mexicans themselves speak very highly of these brands.
The Mezcalita is a simple yet utterly delicious mezcal cocktail made by blending freshly squeezed fruit with mezcal and lime juice, and then sprinkling chili salt (tajin= around the rim.
The secret to the drink being so delicious is that it is prepared with fresh fruit that is squeezed there and then at the bar. You will find different mezcalita flavors served across Mexico.
My personal favorite is the maracuya (passion fruit) mezcal. The piña (pineapple), mango, and naranja (orange juice) varieties are also pretty good.
Piña coladas were invented in Puerto Rico in 1954 so they are not actually Mexican but they are well deserved of an honorary mention on this list since you will find them served everywhere.
Piña coladas served in Mexico and Latin America are a far cry from anything you have likely tried in your home country because they are made with fresh, locally sourced pineapple and coconut cream.
They are altogether creamy, fruity, delicious, and refreshing. If you are not much of a drinker, you should try a virgin version and plenty of bars in Mexico will make you an alcohol-free version even if it isnt on the menu.
You will find dozens of classic and innovative tequila cocktails on the drinks menus in Mexico. However, one Mexico drink that will always be timeless is the tequila sunrise.
The tequila sunrise was not invented in Mexico and instead, we have Gene Sulit of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona to thank for the drink.
Sulit invented the tequila sunrise back in the 1930s by combining tequila, soda water, lime juice, and liquor together.
to create the drink in the 1930s. It was then remade and modified by bartenders in Sausalito, California in the 1970s and was a favorite of many Rock Musicians who helped the drink grow in popularity.
But even though Tequila Sunrise is not Mexican, you have to try it in Mexico. Why?
Well, tequila is essentially the national drink of Mexico. Tequila-based cocktails prepared here are made with lesser-known, better quality, and artisanal tequilas than in the United States and elsewhere.
Besides, since tequila is a Mexican drink, the Mexicans have basically reclaimed this cocktail as their own and you will find it everywhere. If you are not sitting by the beach in El Cuyo or Isla Mujeres watching the sunrise after spending the night drinking tequila sunrises, did you even go to Mexico?
Sotol is a strong, Mexican liquor that has something of a grassy, green flavor. It can be confusing as the appearance of sotol and the way that it is bottled makes it easy to mistake it for tequila or mezcal.
However, sotol is a very different beverage and while mezcal and tequila are made from agave, sotol is made from a different shrub called a dasylirion wheeleri. Sotol is best enjoyed neat, although you will find it blended into cocktails in a number of bars in Mexico.
The name sotol stems from the Nahuatl word tzotolin meaning “palm with long and thin leaves.” This name is often used to refer to both the drink and the plant.
Sotol is considered the state drink of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila. While mezcal is usually cooked in a pit to acquire its smoky taste, sotol piñas are generally roasted in above-ground ovens for several days
Then, they are crushed and the juice is fermented in open-air vats before being distilled in column or pot stills. Clande Sotol, Delincuente, Cinco Tragos, and Lazadores are some of the best Sotol brands to look out for in Mexico.
After a couple of drinks at the bar, you might see sangrita written on a Mexican drinks menu and assume that there is a typo or that you have had a few too many. But you would be wrong.
Sangrita is perhaps something that you are likely to know about if you consider yourself a major tequila aficionado (or alcoholic!) or you have spent a fair amount of time in Mexico and would know what a sangrita is. This drink actually doesn’t contain any alcohol itself and is simply a shot glass filled with tomato juice, orange, and line.
It is served as a chaser alongside high-end tequilas in certain bars. The idea is that you take a sip of tequila and then a sip of sangrita to cleanse your palate, taking alternating sips between the two.
Mezcalitas are some of the best-loved mezcal cocktails. (They arguably are to mezcal what margaritas are to tequila).
However, the selection of mezcal-infused drinks doesn’t stop there.
You will find that mezcal is used to replace other liqueurs in classic cocktails. For instance, how about replacing the vodka in a Moscow Mule cocktail with tequila and mezcal and making a Mezcal Mule?
Alternatively, perhaps you would like a mezcal mojito or a mezcal negroni? A lot of places make their own unique mezcal cocktails too, often using fresh tropical fruits like guava, papaya, and pineapple.
Fresh fruit margaritas
The margarita is one of the world’s favorite classic cocktails. It is said to have been invented in Mexico but, as with many popular inventions, more than one person has come forward to claim that the margarita is their invention.
David Daniel “Danny” Negrete, the former manager of the Hotel Garci Crespo in Tehuacán, Puebla is often recognized as the person who graced the world with the invention of margaritas. The story goes that the drink is actually named after his girlfriend, Margarita, who liked salt in her drinks.
So, his gift to her was to make her her own cocktail and name it after her. Perhaps neither Negrete nor Margarita knew how successful the drink would become;
Today it is a tipple of choice for thousands of people across the globe!
A traditional margarita is made with tequila, triple-sec orange liqueur, and lime. The drink is usually then shaken and served in a margarita glass (coupette) with salt on the rim.
In Mexico, your rim is likely to be sprinkled with spicy chili salt. Better yet, you can also get frozen margaritas, and margaritas made with fresh tropical fruits.
Think mango margaritas or lemon margaritas made by blending fresh fruits purchased from local markets earlier that same day.
Mexican craft beers
Mexico has long been known to be the Latin American country with the best mass-market beer options. However, if you are someone who seeks out independent breweries and enjoys sampling craft beers, you will be pleased to hear that a small, growing scene exists here.
Mexico has an emerging craft beer scene and the options available are increasing every year. Unfortunately, there are some factors that limit the sector’s growth.
Namely, the fact that hops are not grown in Mexico and have to be imported at premium prices, makes the production of some beers not worthwhile. Secondly, you rarely find independent/craft beers at convenience stores like Oxxo because Mexican convenience stores are owned by mass beer companies creating something of a monopoly over beer sales…
Brewpubs are not really a thing in Mexico. However, there are a few places to add to your radar, particularly in Mexico City and in tourist areas of the country.
Cru Cu (Cjon. de Romita 8, La Romita, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc) has a tiny craft brewery in one of the oldest sections of Colonia Roma in CDMX. A pale ale, a porter, and an American lager are among their offerings.
While in CDMX you should also check out Interstellar Brewery (Las Nueces 36, Delegación Santa María Totoltepec) and La Roma Brewing. (Av. Yucatan 84, local L Col, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc).
Branded Mexican beers
Corona is arguably the most famous Mexican beer. However, the mass beer scene in Mexico goes way beyond that, and better yet, many Mexican beers are of excellent taste and quality.
A Dos Equis Amber or a Pacifico beer is already significantly better than an American mass-produced brew. The likes of Bohemian and Negra Modelo are better still.
Grupo Modelo and Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma are the two main producers of beer in Mexico. The former produces the likes of Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Superior, Indio, Bohemia, and Noche Buena.
Meanwhile, Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma produces Corona, Corona Light, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial, Victoria, Estrella, Leon, Montejo and Pacifico. These beers are not just loved in Mexico, people across the world love them too.
In fact, Mexico ranks third in the global export of beer and Corona is one of the five most consumed beers in the world! Mexicans like to drink their beers as-is from the bottle, with a slice of lime, or as part of a michelada.
Pox is a centuries-old Mexico drink that the Ancient Mayans would use as part of their spiritual ceremonies. The drink, pronounced posh was used by spiritual healers and witch doctors.
It was believed that drinking the liquor would perform something of an exorcism on the body and remove any unwanted spirits from within. The burning sensation felt when swallowing the alcohol (because it was so strong) was believed to be the evil leaving the body.
Similarly, the Ancient Maya would give their warriors pox in order to send them to the underworld and back. Whether they went to the underworld, or they just experienced the sensations of getting blackout drunk, is debatable.
Today, pox, also affectionately referred to as “firewater”, is produced in the mountains of Chiapas. It can only really be found in this region and up until recently, it was not permitted to sell or produce elsewhere.
Pox has an interesting smoky flavor that could be compared to whiskey. In the bars that await down the passageways and cobbled streets of San Cristobal de las Casas, you will find plenty of places that serve it.
Pox cocktails can also be found here. The drink changes color and flavor with the addition of herbs and spices.
Because of the importance of Pox in Mayan history and culture, many hope it does not become as mainstream as tequila or mezcal.
Raicilla is a distilled spirit that originates from the northern state of Jalisco. It could be considered as the cousin of tequila and mezcal and is made from the lechuguilla agave and the raicillero agave.
Raicilla is a pretty strong tipple to try, with a phenomenal 63% ABV (126 proof). Raicilla has a subtle smokiness that is comparable to mezcal, but it is typically fruitier and more acidic in taste.
It is often enjoyed neat. However, along the Jalisco coast, orange juice, grapefruit, passion fruit, and mineral water are added to give it a tropical flavor.
Raicilla has often been likened to being the Mexican version of American moonshine. It was overlooked as an alcoholic drink for a while and met with suspicion from many Mexicans outside of the rural areas in which it was produced.
Paloma is a light and refreshing tequila cocktail. It is believed to have been created by Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner and bartender of La Capilla, in Tequila, Mexico.
However, little is known about the drink’s historical origins. Paloma is made by mixing tequila, lime juice, and a grapefruit-flavored soda. Then, of course, chili salt is placed around the rim.
Hot Mexico Drinks
If you have any coffee connoisseurs in your life, you might find that they are people that like coffee so much that they can compare and contrast the flavors of different beans from different global regions. For instance, they love the quality of Colombian coffee, the bright flavors of Kenyan coffee, and the diversity of beans from Guatemala.
When you ask people what their favorite coffee region is, you will seldom hear Mexico mentioned. This isn’t because Mexico cannot compete with the bigger, better-known coffee-growing regions, but because word hasn’t gotten out about it yet.
What may come as a surprise is the fact that Mexico is actually the largest organic coffee producer in the world. Most of this is enjoyed nationwide, however – Mexico consumes just over half of what they produce.
The most common way that coffee is prepared in Mexico is as a Cafe de Olla. To make it, coffee is boiled in a clay pot called an olla, alongside piloncillo (a cane sugar) and cinnamon (canela).
You can also order all of your favorite coffees that you would expect to find back at home. For instance, cappuccinos, lattes, iced coffee, etc.
Chiapas is one of the biggest coffee-growing regions in the country, producing 44% of Mexico’s beans. If you visit charming San Cristobal de Las Casas or Palenque, you should consider doing a tour of the plantations along the coffee route.
Mexican hot chocolate
A lesser-known fact about Mexico? Chocolate was actually invented here.
The Aztecs, Maya, and other indigenous communities of Latin America enjoyed hot chocolate for thousands of years before it was discovered by Europeans.
It makes sense then, that some of the best hot chocolate in the world can be found in Mexico. Mexican hot chocolate is made by grinding cacao, adding hot water or milk, sugar, and cinnamon.
This results in a thicker, more grainy texture than the hot chocolates you are likely to find elsewhere in the world.
In hot temperatures, a steaming cup of hot chocolate is probably the last thing on your mind. But if you happen to be in Mexico in January or the winter months, particularly in the central or northern parts of the country, it is a nice thing to enjoy at the end of the day.
In Mexican regions like Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca, the mountains of Jalisco, and Chiapas, you are likely to find unique hot chocolate drinks, unlike anything you have ever tried before. In Chiapas, you will find a great store called Cacao Nativa that serves deliciously rich dark hot chocolate with dark cacao nibs inside.
(There are various different hot chocolate options on their menu and you can select from different % concentrations of cacao). Chocolate atole, native to Oaxaca, is a regional favorite in central Mexico.
This fermented cacao drink takes six months to prepare and is valued for its thick froth.
A Champurrado is a Mexican hot chocolate drink that differs from traditional Mexican hot chocolate. The difference is the use of masa harina (cornflour) in the recipe.
The drink is smooth, thick, chocolatey, and creamy and similar to atol. Cinnamon is often used to enhance the taste, but different natural flavorings are added in different parts of Mexico.
Some areas even prefer to add a little spice to the drink to give it a kick.
Final thoughts on the best Mexico drinks
Things like creamy homemade horchata topped with cinnamon or an ultra-strong but tasty mezcal sampled at an independent producer site can be as much of a highlight to a trip to Mexico as seeing Mayan ruins like Mayapan. Well not quite, but almost.