The Three Day Drink Guide for Oaxaca City
You are undeserving of Oaxaca City if you spend only three days there. But three-day is a great framework to be selective about your drink spots. Thanks to Susan and Dary. I was able to go to the right places right away. However, by no means, this is a comprehensive guide.
This guide is written in 2019 after my first visit in the summer and I suspect things will change drastically over the next few years. Oaxaca City is attracting many talents from different parts of the world. They are here either to start something fresh or try to make a business out of this artisanal mezcal thing. It is vibrant and upcoming, with a great community, yet feel more much original compared to San Miguel de Allende.
This is a great first place to get yourself educated on mezcal. By appointment only, this downtown Mezcaleria, co-founded by Marco and Silvia, looks like a bar but also a library. Each bottle is clearly labeled including maguey variety, method of roasting, type of still and maestro.
This was my first stop. Before the Oaxaca trip, I couldn’t describe the difference between Tobala and Tepeztate, and never heard of Pechuga. Mezcaloteca is the place where I learned the shapes of different agaves, how to read labels properly.
In Situ might be my favorite Mezcaleria in Oaxaca, not only the owner Ulises Torrentera is knowledgable and he is also quite a character. So make sure to chat with him, if you can read Spanish buy his book too!
It is one of the oldest and best mezcalerias in Oaxaca. Together with his business partner Sandra, Ulises has many selections to choose from in his tiny tasting room.
This is where I fell in love with a bottle with agave sierrudito. It is umami and mineral, unlike other bottles I have tried. The Maestro Pedro has only made about 100 bottles and he doesn't work on mezcal anymore.
Mezcales Cuish is a co-op that is made up of rural producers from different regions, they have a strong focus on the tradition and offer many varieties of agaves. They only started importing to the US in 2019 and so far only limited selections such as Cuish and Espadin.
However, if you have the opportunity to visit their mezcaleria in Oaxaca City, you will find a large selection. It is not as centrally located as the first two, but less than one mile from the city center.
They plan to open an Airbnb style of lodging on the property in the very near future. So you can drink and nap then drink again!
Los Amantes has such a great central location just right behind the Cathedral. While I didn’t particularly love the expressions, it is one of the quirkiest places, that can probably only accommodate no more than 6-8 people. Los Amantes is one of the first certified mezcal distilleries, they also make aged mezcal such as Anejo and Reposado.
Did I mention that there is a guy who has been singing every night for the last 18 years?
This is one of my favorite places other than In Situ for different reasons. It is casual and lively. The bar pours many mezcals, including some made by owner Asis Cortes, who is a six-generation mezcalero. The food is excellent here as well, make sure to try pulque here, a fermented beverage from the sap of maguey.
Sabina Sabe is arguably the pretties also the best cocktail spot in Oaxaca City. Ask for the nightly special taco. You will not be disappointed.
I love to come here before dinner, order a drink and a taco, ask for a table near the window then do a bit people watching.
Casa Oaxaca is an upscale restaurant right in downtown, the terrace offers a nice view of the bustling city.
If you are interested in Istmeño style cuisine which is quite different from regional Oaxacan food, go to this place. It is lively and modern and it serves good drinks too!
Oaxaca is going through a blooming stage of the cocktail scenes, as more expats are moving in with expertise in cocktails. The locals haven’t yet developed the appetite for cocktails but it is changing for sure.
Places That I Didn’t Try
My stay in Oaxaca was not long enough to try everything, and I also need to take care of my liver.
Here is the list of the places that were recommended to me, but I didn’t get to go.
Los Danzantes’s new bar Selva Oaxaca Cocktail Bar
The Two Above
Oaxaca is such an amazing place. I hope this drink guide gives you a good starting point so you can venture into your own discovery.