Mexican drinks are renowned worldwide for their exciting flavors and ability to pack a punch. Tequila is the alcoholic drink most associated with Mexico, but there are many other tasty and potent Mexican liquors and cocktails to discover. This listicle will explore 10 of the most popular alcoholic drinks hailing from Mexico.
Tequila is a distilled spirit made from the blue agave plant, which is native to the Jalisco region of Mexico. To be labeled tequila, the spirit must contain at least 51% blue agave. There are three main types of tequila: blanco (white/silver), reposado (rested), and añejo (aged). Blanco tequila is unaged and has a sharper, potent flavor. Reposado tequila is aged 2-12 months in oak barrels, developing a mellower, oaky taste. Añejo tequila ages in barrels 1-3 years for an even smoother, more complex flavor.
Tequila is most often consumed as a shot with salt and lime, but it can also be sipped neat or used in cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise and Margarita. Many premium tequila brands are produced in Mexico like Patrón, Don Julio, and Jose Cuervo.
Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic drink made from the agave plant. It originated as a traditional drink in Oaxaca. To make mezcal, the heart of the agave plant called piña is roasted, fermented, and distilled. The roasting imparts a smoky, earthy flavor that distinguishes mezcal from tequila.
There are different types of mezcal depending on the variety of agave used. Espadín agave is most common, but varieties like tobalá, tobaziche, and tepeztate also make good mezcal. Sipping mezcal neat is recommended to appreciate the complex flavors. Mezcal also makes a tasty cocktail ingredient in drinks like the Oaxaca Old Fashioned.
Pulque is an ancient Mexican alcoholic drink made by fermenting the sap from certain types of maguey (agave) plants. It has a thick, viscous consistency and a tart, yeasty flavor often compared to kombucha. Pulque is about 5-7% alcohol by volume.
This traditional Mexican drink dates back to the Aztec empire. In Aztec culture, pulque was considered sacred. Today, pulque is still homemade and popular in central Mexico. It’s most often consumed fresh due to its short shelf life. Flavored pulque drinks combine the fermented agave sap with fruits, grains, and spices.
The Michelada is a Mexican beer cocktail made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice, and chili peppers. It’s served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. Key ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and Maggi seasoning add a tangy, spicy, savory flavor that perfectly complements the crisp, refreshing beer.
Micheladas are often made with Mexican lager beers like Modelo, Pacifico, or Victoria. They’re the ideal drink for hot weather, great for sipping at backyard BBQs, beach parties, or enjoying with tacos al pastor. A similar tomato-based beer cocktail is the Chelada, which forgoes the savory flavorings.
The Paloma is a refreshing Mexican cocktail traditionally made with tequila, grapefruit soda, lime juice, and salt. It’s served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass with a grapefruit wedge garnish. The combination of tangy citrus, sweet grapefruit soda, and herbaceous tequila makes the Paloma a crisp, easy-drinking cocktail.
This iconic tequila drink likely originated in Jalisco, Mexico. Swapping grapefruit juice for the soda makes a delicious fresh take. The Paloma shows off tequila’s versatility as a complex yet mixable spirit. It’s perfect for sunny day sipping and margarita lovers looking to change things up.
No list of iconic Mexican drinks is complete without the Margarita. This classic cocktail is a simple yet perfect blend of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice shaken or blended with ice and garnished with a salt-rimmed glass. The original Margarita likely originated at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico in the 1940s.
Margaritas are one of the most popular cocktails around the world. They come in many variations including fruit flavors. Frozen Margaritas, blended until slushy, provide dangerously easy drinking on a hot day. With quality tequila and fresh ingredients, the classic Margarita recipe can’t be beat.
The Bandera is a patriotic Mexican shooter cocktail with the colors of Mexico’s flag – red, white, and green. It combines tequila (clear), lime juice (green), and sangrita (red). Sangrita is a tart citrusy sauce made with tomato juice, orange juice, chiles, spices, and grenadine or pomegranate juice which provides the red color.
To create the layered effect, the sangrita is carefully floated over the white tequila before the sour lime juice finishes off the flag colors. The Bandera is fun to shoot, allowing you to taste each component individually. It’s perfect before a round of tequila shots or served with a cold Mexican beer.
Ponche is a warm, spiced Mexican punch traditional during the holidays and special occasions. Authentic ponche contains tequila or rum, sugar, fruit juices, cinnamon, and seasonal fruits like apple, guava, plantains, and hibiscus flowers. The drink typically simmers in a pot to meld the flavors and develop an almost tea-like richness ideal for sipping.
Ponche comes in many regional variations. Some include milk, egg, or coconut. Serving the punch with a slice of rum-soaked bread is customary. Ponche Navideño is a popular Christmas version topped with seasonal fruits. This hearty, spiced drink is perfect for lively winter gatherings and celebrations.
The Piña Colada is a creamy rum-based cocktail blended with pineapple juice, coconut cream, and often coconut liqueur. It originated in Puerto Rico but quickly became popular at Mexican beach resorts. The tropical flavors and smooth, frothy texture made the Piña Colada a vacation classic.
In Mexico, the Piña Colada may swap rum for tequila. Both versions combine sweet coconut and tart pineapple for a perfect beachside refresher. Garnished festively with fruit and little paper umbrellas, Piña Coladas are found on menus at every seaside bar and resort across Mexico.
A Damajuana is a Mexican rum-based punch packed in a clays pot jug for easy transport to picnics, festivals, and celebrations. Typical ingredients include sugar cane liquor, line juice, tamarind, cloves, cinnamon and seasonal fruits. The jug keeps it cool and protected during transport.
Damajuana punch is associated with the state of Michoacán but enjoyed all over Mexico. Part of the fun is when the clay seal over the jug is cracked open before serving. Damajuana serves large groups well with its fresh fruity rum punch flavors. A ladle and cups are passed around for everyone to enjoy this festive sip.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Rich, spiced Mexican hot chocolate is a delicious iconic drink dating back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayans who consumed cacao. Cinnamon, chile peppers, and vanilla are common spices blended into the melted chocolate. This thick, almost fudgy drinking chocolate is topped with creamy froth.
In Mexico, hot chocolate is often made fresh by melting chocolate discs in warm milk or water. Tablets like Abuelita are a quick substitute to make classic champurrado. Adding a splash of coffee liqueur or tequila spikes the warmth with alcohol for a supremely satisfying winter drink.
So there you have it – 10 of the most iconic and popular alcoholic drinks hailing from Mexico. From Margaritas to Palomas, tequila to mezcal, Mexican drinks offer incredible diversity and flavor. Their significance in culture and tradition only heightens the experience. The next time you want to get into the Mexican spirit, try one of these tasty beverages.
Sangria is a widely enjoyed fruity wine punch in Mexico and Spain that blends red wine with brandy or rum, an array of fresh sliced fruits, fruit juices, sparkling water or soda, and a sweetener like sugar. Lime, apple, orange, peach, mango, pomegranate and other tropical fruits are commonly used in Mexican sangria for their juicy flavors and bright colors.
The alcohol gives sangria its kick, while the fruit makes it deliciously sweet and refreshing. The soda or sparkling water provides some fizz and a lighter texture. Sangria is often made in large batches and served communally in pitchers, carafes or bowls with sliced fruit floating in the sangria liquid. It’s a perfect cocktail for parties, barbecues, restaurants, and other celebrations.
Some add spices like cinnamon or star anise to give Mexican sangria even more flavor complexity. The drink is beautiful to look at with its vivid red wine color tinted with vivid fruits. Sangria originated in Spain but became popular in Mexico too. It’s low alcohol content makes it easy to drink glass after glass on a hot day. You’ll find pitchers of sangria on patios, in parks, at holiday gatherings, or paired with a Mexican meal.
The Rosita is an elegant and complex sparkling tequila cocktail made by combining fresh lime juice, dry vermouth, the Italian aperitif Campari, simple syrup, and silver blanco tequila. Once strained over ice in a chilled glass, the cocktail is topped with club soda to provide effervescent bubbles.
The combination of the bitter, herbal tastes from Campari and vermouth pair unexpectedly well with the bright citrus and peppery agave flavors of a nice silver tequila. The dash of simple syrup and lime add just enough sweetness and acidity to balance the drink. The end result has a lovely pinkish hue.
There are a few different legends about the origin of the Rosita. One claims it was created in the late 1940s by Francisco “Panchito” Ramos at the Balinese Room club in Galveston, Texas. Others say it originated decades later in San Francisco or LA. Wherever it was first made, the Rosita has undeniable Mexican spirit in its ingredients.
Sipped before dinner, this tequila cocktail has a softer kick than many. The herbal complexity from vermouth and Campari is what truly distinguishes it from a standard Margarita. Rosita’s provide a nice change of pace for tequila drinks.
The Batanga is a highball cocktail that combines Mexican cola, such as Jarritos, with a healthy dose of blanco tequila and freshly squeezed lime juice. A salty rim helps balance the sweetness of the cola. Although simple to make with only three ingredients, Batangas deliver bright, satisfying flavor in every sip.
To make a Batanga, run a lime wedge around the rim of a tall glass and dip it into salt to create a salty coating. Next, fill the glass with ice and add 1 1⁄2 ounces of silver tequila. Top with Mexican cola, about 4-6 ounces depending on your preferred strength. Finally, squeeze in the juice from a fresh lime wedge and stir gently.
The salty rim, sweet cola, tart lime and strong tequila makes this drink deeply refreshing. Batangas pair especially well with spicy Mexican foods, helping put out the fire. They are also fantastic on their own before dinner or on a hot afternoon. You’ll find Batangas served in cantinas and bars across Mexico.
While Coca Cola is sometimes substituted, using a Mexican cola like Jarritos adds more authentic flavor. The name Batanga is Mexican slang for having a good time or “going on a bender.” Batangas certainly live up to this lively reputation!
This creative riff on the classic Italian Negroni cocktail swaps smoky mezcal for regular gin to put a distinctly Mexican twist on the drink. It combines equal parts mezcal, sweet vermouth, and Campari. A dash of mole bitters also enhances the cocktail’s Oaxacan flair.
Mezcal has an incredibly complex, robust flavor thanks to its rustic production process. The piñas of the agave plant are roasted underground, infusing the mezcal with hints of wood smoke and earth. This makes it bolder and more intriguing than most gins.
The mole bitters add touches of ancho and chipotle chile flavor along with spices like cinnamon, clove, and cacao. Combined in the classic Negroni formula of equal thirds, these components balance beautifully together. The mezcal asserts itself but gets rounded out by the sweet vermouth and the herbal bitterness of Campari.
Served over ice and garnished with an orange twist, the Oaxacan Negroni makes a fantastic aperitif before dinner. The smokiness also pairs wonderfully with mole sauces and rich Mexican cuisine. Subbing local mezcal showcases the spirit’s complexity while reinventing a classic cocktail.
The Vampiro is a traditional Mexican shooter cocktail featuring sangrita and tequila blanco in distinct red and white layers. To make it, sangrita is carefully floated over blanco tequila. When shot, the drinker first tastes the sweet and tart sangrita before the strong tequila finish.
Sangrita is a thin, red-orange juice made from tomatoes, oranges, lime, spices, chiles, and often pomegranate juice or grenadine. The pomegranate gives sangrita its vivid hue. The exact recipe varies, but it always provides a sweet-sour citrus flavor to contrast and complement the tequila.
While sipping tequila with a sangrita chaser is common, the Vampiro combines them stylishly in one cocktail. The layered presentation is part of the fun. Sangrita was originally used to chase strong tequila, but it’s now adored in its own right.
Vampiros are often enjoyed alongside Mexican food, especially tacos. They’re also very popular at festivals and bars in Mexico as a fun way to start a night out. The name Vampiro comes from the visual of the red sangrita floating over the clear tequila like a vampire with his cloak.