Playa Del Carmen’s vibrant nightlife is fueled by the country’s favorite liquors: tequila and mezcal. Both spirits are only produced in Mexico and are deeply rooted in the country’s culture.
Tequila or Mezcal?
Not sure what differentiates these two agave-based spirits? Here is a brief explanation.
Tequila has a wide range of flavors from unaged blanco to extra anejo that are aged over three years. The common denominator that classifies this wide range of spirits as tequila is it must be made from a minimum of 51% Weber blue agave plants and must be distilled in one of five specific regions in Mexico.
Mezcal is another agave-based spirit that can be made from over 30 different varieties of maguey agave plants. Espadin agave plants are the most used in mezcal production and account for up to 90% of mezcals. Mezcal is produced in nine different areas in Mexico and is traditionally smoked with wood and charcoal which gives the spirit its smoky flavor. There are two tales of how mezcal was created some giving the Aztecs credit and others the Spaniards, regardless of who invented mezcal it has been closely intertwined in Mexican culture for at least 500 years. You can’t go to a celebration of life, death, or marriage without mezcal’s presence.
Intrigued to give these spirits a try? Read on to discover the best places to sample tequila and mezcal on your next day or night out in Playa Del Carmen.
Top 5 Tequila Tasting Spots
Stop Estacion Tequila
Avenida 5 entre Calle 10 y 12
My number one recommendation for tequila and mezcal tastings goes to Stop Estacion Tequila. It’s conveniently located on 5th avenue and has the widest variety of tequila and mezcal available to taste.
Their offerings include small-batch mezcal brands mostly from Oaxaca as well as internationally distributed brands, making it easy to replace your favorite bottle when you get back home. The employees are very knowledgeable about both spirits and enjoy educating you on the distillation procedure. The tequila tastings are free, and they sell a variety of bottle sizes so you can take as much tequila or mezcal home with you as your country will allow.
For our friends who prefer the smoother spirits, they have hibiscus, peanut, anise, lime and mandarin liquors available to sample as well.
La Perla Mezcaleria
Calle 38 entre Avenida 1 y Avenida 5
The only mezcal tasting that comes with a price tag is at La Perla Mezcaleria. This mezcaleria offers multiple options of mezcal flights that are paired with local cuisine. My favorite was the three-course offering that includes a 1-ounce sample of ensambe paired with a queso Oaxaca empanada, a 1-ounce sample of pechuga de Guajolote paired with a cup of sopa Azteca (also known as chicken tortilla soup), and a 1-ounce sample of tobalá paired with a cochinita pibil taco.
The food pairings change daily but the prices for the mezcal pairings are constant, ranging from 950 to 1500 pesos for the three-course – seven-course respectively. I highly recommend this experience if you love mezcal and are interested in trying local Yucatecan food.
Fabrica Tequila Mexico
Avenida 5 entre Calle 4 y 6 / Avenida 5 entre Calle 38 y 40
Set in the back of the store is a wooden bar for tequila and mezcal tastings and education. The staff educates you on all the spirits as you sample the products. The stores are arranged by spirit and contain mostly small-batch artisanal products.
The products sold in the stores aren’t sold in grocery stores only in small shops and Oaxaca making these bottles great gift ideas and souvenirs from the trip. Fabrica Tequila is the liveliest of the tequila tastings that I visited, and it felt like a nice balance between education and a party. Include it on your next stroll down 5th Avenue and you won’t be disappointed.
Avenida 5 entre Av. Benito Juarez y Calle 2
Tequila King is my top recommendation for people who prefer sweet cocktails or have had bad past experiences with tequila in college. They offer the widest range of cremas that are flavored and low in alcohol content, such as pina colada, guava, strawberry, and mango. These are the perfect addition to make flavored margaritas. They also have unique agave samples of honey, coffee, and chocolate infusions.
Tequila King also offers agave samples of pox another agave-based spirit. Mayans traditionally drank it during religious ceremonies. In their language pox means “medicine’ or “healing’. Pox is made from corn, wheat, and/or sugar cane and is also known as aguardiente.
Avenida 5 entre Calle 4 y 6
Now Mezcal offers a wide selection of mezcals including Tobala, Tobasiche, Espadin, Cupreata, Madrecuishe, and varietals that include scorpions and worms in the bottle. For coffee lovers, their mezcal infused coffee is the perfect balance of bitter and smoky with slight vanilla notes making it a perfect dessert substitute. They have coffee cremas and liquors as well!
More extreme mezcal lovers might be interested in purchasing their marijuana or psychedelic mushroom-infused mezcals. Unfortunately, these are not included in the free tequila and mezcal samplings.
Support Children in Playa del Carmen
Before you cruise down 5th Avenue to try the best tequila and mezcal tastings Playa Del Carmen has to offer, have you considered how you can impact the local community? As tourists and travelers, you can make a huge impact in Playa Del Carmen and it won’t cost you much. Did you know that high school is not free in Mexico? A lot of travelers see the poverty around them and want to help but aren’t sure of the best way.
The Keeping Kids in School Project is a nonprofit organization based in Playa Del Carmen that thinks education is a human right. Many families in Mexico struggle to find the extra money to pay for schooling, supplies, and uniforms. There are many ways you can help including donating your time or spending less than $2 per day to sponsor a student.
Click here to see the different ways you can support the community and impact the lives of students in the Riviera Maya.