If you are in the service industry, odds are you or someone you know have visited Oaxaca in the last year. Oaxaca is mezcal central and mezcal is so hot right now. (Before getting into this post further, it is worthwhile to read this piece, written by Owen Walker of El Rey in Toronto to get a primer on mezcal.)
Oaxaca is a short plane ride away from Mexico City and is 100% worth the visit if you have the time. Flights leave multiple times daily from CDMX. Oaxaca is a beautiful city: historical buildings and lots of street art can be found everywhere. The main square is home to a great outdoor market that sells pretty much everything and it evolves throughout the day and into the evening from breakfast food to more textiles and handmade goods to taco time. Be sure to eat a tlayuda while you are there – they are a type of taco that originates in the state of Oaxaca. El Centro de Oaxaca is small so everything on our list is ridiculously walkable.
1/ You will want to start your night somewhere with food (as always). We recommend Zandunga where shared plates of tlayudas, tostadas and totopos are plentiful and they have some interesting mezcales and beers to order as well. The bartenders and servers (who are interchangeable at this spot) could not be friendlier or happier to have you in their establishment.
2/ For stop two, you should head to one of our favourite mezcalerias: In Situ. Not only do they have many vintages of many varietals and blends of their own mezcal, but they carry anything they decide is interesting from other producers in the area. You can go in and order what you want, or have the staff guide you through what they think you might like based on your preferences. This is a great place to learn about different types of mezcales because they have them all. Hot Tip: There is no bad mezcal at In Situ, trust the guys behind the bar. If you like what you drink, you can buy a bottle to take with you.
3/ Now that you have a little fire in your belly, let’s slow down with a cocktail. Sabine Sabe is a great place to stop for a well made classic cocktail. This is a tiny room that acts as a holding pen for the attached restaurant. The bartenders pump out well crafted and well thought out drinks at a furious pace to keep up with not only this 16 seat room, but the restaurant next door, all while taking the time to make sure you’re having a great time in Oaxaca.
4/ Mezcalogia is a tiny room, about 20 seats, in the front of hotel. The rich wood interior is a cozy alternative to the mostly rustic mezcalerias in town. Their specialty is flights (a flight is usually three of the same thing, from different producers. Generally found in beer bars, but when in Oaxaca…). Pick a varietal of mezcal and you will be walked through a tasting. Cocktails are also available here and the staff are very knowledgeable. Hot tip: they also have a speakeasy style bar that is open on weekends.
5/ By now your tongue will be seasoned well with mezcal, so head to La Mezcalarita and have some pulque on their rooftop. There are 4 or 5 flavours of pulque here as well as the straight goods. Pulque is fermented agave juice from the heart of the agave plant. It has about the same alcohol percentage as lager. It is thick and flavourful and something that must be experienced. If pulque doesn’t do it for you there are many of Mexico’s new and interesting craft beers available here.
This next step is even less mandatory than the rest of this bar hop, but if you want an authentic experience, stop for a street side hamburguesa. You are thinking: “That’s just a hamburger, right?” It isn’t, and there are no words to properly explain why it isn’t, you just have to live it to understand.
Do you have any bars in Oaxaca to add to our list? Comment below.
Note: As with all Bar Hops, we are not encouraging getting inebriated. This is a list of great cocktail bars that we suggest visiting while in Oaxaca. We want you to have fun and play safe. Check out How to Do a Good Bar Hop for some hot tips.
ALSO: On January 22nd, we are hosting an Introduction to Mezcal seminar with El Rey in Toronto and there are still a few tickets available! Click HERE for more info!