Mexico is known for its delicious drinks that complement its diverse regional cuisines. From refreshing aguas frescas to classic margaritas, here are some of the top drinks you should try on your visit.
Tequila is Mexico’s most famous spirit and an iconic drink you must try. Produced primarily in the states of Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas from the blue agave plant, tequila has a distinct flavor ranging from sweet to smoky. Sip it straight or enjoy it mixed into cocktails like margaritas or palomas.
Types of Tequila
There are two main categories of tequila:
- 100% Agave Tequila – Made purely from the blue agave plant. Considered superior in quality and taste.
- Mixtos – Made from at least 51% blue agave with added sugars. More affordable but generally lower quality.
Within 100% agave tequila, there are further classifications:
- Blanco – Unaged, clear in color. Bold, earthy flavor.
- Reposado – Aged 2-11 months in oak barrels. Soft, mellow taste.
- Añejo – Aged 1-3 years. Robust, complex flavor.
- Extra Añejo – Aged over 3 years. Very smooth, refined taste.
Where to Drink Tequila in Mexico
Some of the best places to sip tequila in Mexico include:
- Distilleries near Tequila town such as Jose Cuervo, Sauza, and more
- Mezcal bars and tasting rooms in Oaxaca
- Rooftop bars and lounges in Mexico City
- Beach clubs in coastal towns like Tulum or Los Cabos
- Cantinas and bars in colonial cities like Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende
Tequila Cocktails to Try
- Margarita – Tequila, lime juice, triple sec or Cointreau, salt rim
- Paloma – Tequila, grapefruit soda, lime juice, salt rim
- Tequila Sunrise – Tequila, orange juice, grenadine syrup
- Mexican Mule – Tequila, ginger beer, lime juice
Mezcal is a distilled spirit like tequila, but made from the agave plant native to Oaxaca rather than blue agave. It has a distinctive smoky flavor and is traditionally sipped neat from a small clay cup called a copita. Look for top brands like Del Maguey, Alipús, and Mezcalosfera. Mezcal cocktails are also gaining popularity, often substituting it in place of tequila in drinks like margaritas, palomas and mezcal mules.
Pulque is an ancient Mesoamerican alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. Milky white in color with a sour, yeasty taste, pulque is low in alcohol content at just 4-7%. It was considered sacred by the Aztecs and Mayans. Today, pulque bars known as pulquerías are popular places to try this historic beverage in Mexico City, Puebla, and the states of Hidalgo and Tlaxcala where it originates.
Mexico has a thriving beer culture and consuming beer is common at family meals, parties, and social gatherings. Some Mexican beer brands to look for include:
- Corona – One of Mexico’s most famous exports, recognizable by the iconic lime wedge.
- Victoria – A Vienna-style lager, golden in color with a slight malt flavor.
- Pacifico – A pilsner-style beer with bright, crisp taste.
- Modelo – A mild, well-balanced Vienna lager.
- Dos Equis -A classic Mexican pilsner known by its two XX logo.
- Negra Modelo – A Munich-style Dunkel dark beer with roasted malt.
- Montejo – From Yucatán, a lighter Euro pale lager style beer.
- Bohemia – Crafted according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516.
- Indio – A dark, Vienna-style beer from the Grupo Modelo brewery.
Be sure to also try local and craft beers from smaller breweries throughout Mexico like Cerveza Minerva in Jalisco or Calavera in Tijuana.
A michelada is a Mexican beer cocktail made by combining beer with assorted sauces, spices, and juices like lime, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, pepper, tomato juice or clamato. It’s served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. The savory, mildly spicy flavors complement and accentuate the beer. Some popular michelada recipes include:
- Original – Lager beer, lime, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt
- Chelada – Lager beer, lime, salt
- Cubana – Lager beer, lime, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato juice
- Roja – Lager beer, lime, hot sauce, tomato juice
- Verde – Lager beer, lime, tomatillo sauce
Aguas frescas are refreshing non-alcoholic beverages made from sweetened fruits, cereals, seeds, or flowers blended with water. They are the perfect thirst quenchers for Mexico’s warm climate. Some aguas frescas to try include:
- Horchata – Rice, cinnamon, vanilla
- Tamarind – Sweet and sour tamarind pulp
- Jamaica – Hibiscus flowers
- Limonada – Lime juice, lime zest, sugar
- Melon – Watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe
- Sandía – Watermelon
- Fresa – Strawberry
- Mango – Mango, sugar
- Piña – Pineapple
Aguas frescas are ubiquitous in Mexico, sold by street vendors, at restaurants, and in homes. Sip them with meals or as a refreshing break from alcoholic drinks.
Licor de Café
Licor de café is a sweet coffee liqueur produced in Mexico. Brands like Café Rica, Café Punta del Cielo, and Kahlúa are excellent served straight up, on the rocks, or mixed into coffee cocktails. Some delicious ways to drink licor de café include:
- Substituted for Kahlúa in an Espresso Martini
- Poured over ice cream for affogato
- Added to Irish coffee
- Splashed into coffee
Ponche is a traditional Mexican hot fruit punch often consumed around the holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Recipes vary, but common ingredients include:
- Frutas de Horno (boiled dried fruits)
- Tejocotes (Mexican hawthorn fruit)
- Piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar)
- Jamaica flowers
Spices like clove and allspice add flavor. The punch is simmered so the fruits release their essence and the liquid takes on rich, concentrated fruity notes. Ponche is often spiked with rum or tequila. Warm, sweet and fragrant, it’s an iconic Mexican holiday drink.
Atole is a traditional pre-Hispanic hot corn beverage with a thick, porridge-like consistency. It’s made from masa harina (corn flour) or corn kernels cooked in water or milk then sweetened and flavored in both savory and sweet variations. Some popular atole flavors include:
- Champurrado – Chocolate
- Café – Coffee
- Vainilla – Vanilla
- Guayaba – Guava
- Rompope – Mexican egg nog
- Chocolate con pasas – Chocolate raisin
Atole is commonly sold by street vendors and drunk for breakfast or as a comforting drink on cold evenings.
Pozol is a traditional maize-based drink from southeast Mexico. It originated with the ancient Maya and was later adopted by the Aztecs. To make it, maize dough is fermented and diluted with water. It often contains cacao, spices like anise seed, and chile peppers. Pozol has an acquired earthy, sour taste that makes it an adventurous drink to try. It’s still commonly consumed in the states of Tabasco, Chiapas and Veracruz.
Not to be confused with the island country, this jamaica drink gets its name from the Spanish word for hibiscus flower. The vibrant red hibiscus flowers are boiled to extract their color and flavor, then strained and sweetened with piloncillo or sugar. The resulting agua fresca is tart yet floral with brilliant magenta color. Jamaica water is refreshing on its own but also nicely complements rum, tequila or mezcal in cocktails.
Bionico is a popular Mexican dessert drink consisting of chopped or pureed fruits, granola, coconut flakes, condensed milk, raisins and shredded cheese or sour cream on top. While recipes can vary, it often contains a mix of papaya, banana, strawberries, mango, melon and pineapple. The combination of fruits, nuts, dairy and nectar is sweet and refreshing. Bionico is commonly sold by street vendors but also found at cafes and restaurants as a unique treat.
Not to be confused with the Mexican hot chocolate drink, champurrado in its original form is a sweet, thick, corn-based beverage. It’s made by cooking masa harina with piloncillo, cinnamon and star anise then blending until smooth. Champurrado has a molasses-like flavor and consistency. Some varieties use chocolate or chocolate atole mix instead of corn. It’s a classic accompaniment to tamales and popular as a breakfast drink.
Tuba is an indigenous alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of various species of palm trees. The tapped sap is collected, allowed to ferment for several hours, then enjoyed immediately before it spoils in potency. Tuba has a mildly sweet, tart taste often described as similar to coconut water or kombucha. It’s low in alcohol at just 2-4%. While rare to find commercially, it’s still homemade and enjoyed by communities in western Mexico.
Taxcalate is a traditional Maya chocolate drink dating back centuries. To make it, maize is toasted and ground with cacao beans, achiote seeds and other spices like cinnamon or chile. The mixture is blended into water and beaten vigorously to produce a frothy, earthy, spiced chocolate drink. Taxcalate is labor intensive to create but provides a window into ancient Maya cuisine and culture.
More of a candy than drink, Pulparindo is a classic Mexican treat that’s too iconic not to mention. The tamarind pulp candy resembles a stick of dynamite, earning it the nickname “Mexican dynamite lollipop”. With a gooey tamarind interior encased in a thick layer of chili and salt, it provides an explosion of sweet, sour and spicy. Pulparindo is more a palate cleanser than drink, but an absolute must-try Mexican candy.
Mexico offers endless variety when it comes to tasty beverages. From ancient drinks like pulque and pozol to modern favorites like micheladas and mezcal cocktails, imbibing in the country’s drinks is a delicious way to experience Mexican culture and cuisine. Stick to the classics or get adventurous with indigenous specialties – either way, your taste buds are sure for an unforgettable education in Mexico’s vibrant drinking traditions.