In Los Cabos, a Craft Cocktail Scene Emerges
Despite the beach city’s reputation for parties and cheap shots, bartenders are turning to local ingredients and infusions to shake up the scene.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, has long been known as a party destination. The home of numerous spring break revels fueled by shots of cheap tequila, it might not be the first place that comes to mind when seeking out craft cocktails. Despite the city’s reputation for parties, however, the craft cocktail scene is beginning to grow. At many of the higher-end resorts and restaurants, fresh ingredients and innovative flavor combinations are creating a scene that will please even the most discerning of cocktail palates.
One major trend in the Cabo cocktail scene is the use of infused tequilas for both shots and cocktails. Fresh fruits, herbs, and spices are immersed in blanco (unaged) tequila, and left to infuse for several days. The infusing agents are then strained out, and the resulting flavored tequilas are ready for their thirsty audiences.
At the all-inclusive Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach resort, the bar features vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and rosemary-infused tequilas, alongside fruit flavors like strawberry and kiwi-blueberry. While resort guests can and do order these flavored tequilas as shots with lemon or lime and salt, the bartenders recommend sipping them slowly or mixing them into unfussy cocktails to better appreciate the taste. For the full effect of the infused tequila without too much distraction, a simple tequila and soda with a squeeze of your favorite citrus allows the flavors to shine through.
Away from the all-inclusive resort scene, La Biblioteca de Tequila near the main wharf in downtown Los Cabos is the undisputed queen of the tequila and craft cocktail scene in Los Cabos. Owned by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, La Biblioteca prides itself on having the best tequila selection and the most innovative cocktails in town.
Their extensive, multi-page tequila menu includes options for every taste and price point, and their friendly and knowledgeable staff will happily explain the differences between the blanco, reposado, and añejo varieties. Though tequila is not made locally in Los Cabos — it’s distilled only in the state of Jalisco in west central Mexico — the staff here has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of which distilleries make the best tequilas of each variety and can offer customized tasting flights based on your personal preference.
La Biblioteca’s collection of house-infused tequilas includes vanilla, guava, lychee, and serrano pepper — any of which can be ordered on its own or served as part of a tasting flight. In addition, fresh housemade purees of strawberry and mango can be combined with infused tequilas of the same fruits to create extra intense flavors in their fruit margaritas — a definite step above the flavored margaritas made from mixes at many of the other establishments downtown. It’s on their specialty cocktail menu, however, that La Biblioteca de Tequila really shines.
Their Pepino margarita, featuring serrano pepper-infused tequila and fresh cucumber, is a spicy and refreshing variation on the classic cocktail, and its unusual flavors make it one of the bar’s most popular drinks. At my request for “something unusual,” the bartender makes a margarita with guava-infused tequila and chunks of freshly cut guava that float like ice cubes. It’s subtle and delicious, exactly as I’d hoped.
Beyond the margarita options, the Biblioteca features numerous additional cocktail options made with tequila’s cousin, mezcal. Two of the bar’s most popular options are the Dorado Diablo and La Mula. The Dorado Diablo is a blend of mezcal, guava, and hibiscus, with subtle notes of herbs, and is beautifully sweet without being cloying. La Mula, a perfectly balanced blend of mezcal, lemon, ginger, and rosemary, is the perfect refreshing drink to follow a hot Mexican afternoon at the beach.
As the interest in craft cocktails grows amongst the tourist population in Los Cabos, the city’s mixology scene can only get better. While there will always be a place for all-night parties and cheap shots in the city, the increasing number of more sophisticated options is bound to make Los Cabos one of North America’s go-to cocktail destinations in the near future.
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