Mexico has a long history of mixology, most notably when the Cuervo family began distilling tequila in the 18th century, which led to the creation of the margarita in the 1930s. Even if you consider yourself a connoisseur of one of the world’s most famous cocktails, in Mexico, you’ll discover infinite variations of the margarita and new flavors to keep your palate entertained.
We’ve made a list of must-try highballs, agave cocktails and other libations for your next visit to the Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta and where to enjoy them.
Undoubtedly Mexico’s drink of choice for a hot summer day, a michelada traditionally consists of a large, salt-rimmed glass mug with freshly squeezed lime juice and a bottle of cold beer to pour into it. The drink comes in endless variations, the most common being the Michelada Cubana (prepared with lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and Maggi) and the Michelada con Clamato (which, as the name suggests, features Clamato juice).
Where to try it: Micheladas can be made with any beer, so you can get creative and try it with different types of local and artisanal brands. At Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico, order a michelada with Cora Beer — specially blended by Cervecería Minerva for the resort — at its Dos Catrinas restaurant.
Palomas are one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets. Served in a highball rimmed with salt, this mixed drink tends to use bottom-shelf tequila, but you’ll never know the difference thanks to the citrusy and faintly sweet flavors of the grapefruit soda that fill the glass. Modern versions sometimes substitute tequila for mezcal, tequila’s smokier cousin.
Where to try it: Sip a Paloma Negra — which shares the name of a classic Mexican song — at Altamira Cantina Gourmet in The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort. A swanky take on the classic drink, this Paloma Negra uses top-notch mezcal and black salt made with roasted chilis on the rim of the glass, as well as grapefruit juice instead of soda.
Although most consider margaritas Mexico’s most famous export, the cocktail’s origins remain a mystery and multiple versions abound. Whether you’ve had a margarita frozen or on the rocks, in its classic lime flavor or sweeter versions of mango or strawberry, chances are you’ve tasted this tequila-based cocktail at least once.
Where to try it: Frida, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit’s all-inclusive Mexican restaurant, crafts margaritas in flavors like hibiscus flower, mango, pineapple, basil and berries. If you prefer the quintessential lime version, go for the Margarita El Conquistador, made with Espolón blanco tequila, Grand Marnier and a touch of red wine.
Often referred to as the “drink of the gods,” pulque is a pre-Hispanic beverage that has experienced a slow revival in the last decade. Once considered obscure and sold mostly along highways going to rural areas and hard-to-find pulquerías, pulque is steadily gaining popularity. Although its viscous texture might not appeal to everyone, we encourage you to sample this ancient drink made from the fermented sap of the agave.
Where to try it: Conrad Punta de Mita’s beachside Codex pairs a beautiful oceanfront setting with pulque. At the open-air restaurant, order some corn gorditas, as the drink can sometimes be stronger than expected.
More a way of drinking tequila than a drink itself, a Banderita represents the three colors of the Mexican flag. Order one and the bartender will set out three shot glasses — one containing tequila, one with lime juice and a third with sangrita (which means “little blood”), a spicy concoction similar to the bloody mary base. Make sure you order top-shelf tequila, and whatever you do, don’t drink it as a shot. Banderitas are meant to be sipped, alternating between the two chasers to enhance the flavors of tequila.
Where to try it: You can find Banderitas at almost any restaurant or bar in Mexico, but we recommend the Bandera Mexicana (“Mexican flag”) at Táu Beach Club in Casa Velas Puerto Vallarta. Not only is the beachfront setting unbeatable, but you’ll also enjoy it in the birthplace of tequila, the state of Jalisco.