Cancún and the Yucatán Peninsula’s Best Daiquiris and Piña Coladas
There’s absolutely no doubt that when it comes to party resorts, nothing beats Cancún, Mexico’s premier Caribbean resort. The nightclubs are second to none, the beaches are crystal clear, and fabulous restaurants abound. However, while there are a lot of bars that offer unlimited drinks once you pay admission, some travelers say that the drinks might not be that good and in some cases are even watered down. That means the venues are great, no one can deny how amazing the venues are, but where does one go if one really wants to try the city’s famous cocktails the way they are meant to be served?
Well, most hotels and bars that sell drinks a la carte are going to serve up terrific concoctions. But if you’re in the mood for an adventure and a mixed drink that will knock your socks off, a trip outside of the city to the smaller resorts or other tourist attractions is in order. We’ll tell you where you can get the best daiquiris and Piña Coladas in the entire Yucatán Peninsula.
First of all, the best daiquiri in the Cancún area and quite possibly all of the Caribbean can be had in the smaller beach resort of Playa Del Carmen, which is located a short drive south of the bigger holiday area.
A good daiquiri should have the following ingredients: a lot of good quality silver or unaged rum, lots of lime juice, a dash of orange liqueur, some sugar, and some ice. Although it’s a simple drink, it’s a cocktail that far too many bars get wrong because they’ll use pre-packaged mixes instead of fresh ingredients.
One place that gets it right all the time every time is actually a Thai restaurant in Playa del Carmen called Babe’s Noodle House and Bar (10th St. between 5th and 10th Ave, Playa del Carmen, Mexico). The cocktails served are huge, but quality is never sacrificed for quantity. The blueberry daiquiris seem to be a customer favorite; however, they are also known to make a marvelous mojito. So if you’re thinking of exploring the environs of Cancún and tasting just how good mixed drinks can be, a visit to Babe’s Noodle House and Bar is in order.
Surprisingly, some of the best Piña Colada cocktails that are available in Mexico and perhaps all of the Americas are absolutely not where you would expect to find them. Many Cancún resorts offer day trips to visit the famed Mayan Ruins: Tulum, Chichén Itzá, and Uxmal are the major groups and if you want some adventure, it is absolutely worth the trip to go and visit them. It’s very easy to spend a couple of days exploring all of the ancient buildings and learning what they were used for back in the Pre-Columbian days. There are some beautiful hotels near the three locations; Tulum is close to Cancún, Chichén Itzá is about 1 and a half hours away by car, and Uxmal is about 4 and a half hours away by car.
However, the place to find the best Piña Colada isn’t at the fancy hotels by the ruins, and if you are an adventurer at heart, you will love the locales where some of the world’s best mixed drinks are made: the tiny little shacks that dot the roads on the way to the ruins. Some are located in a one-kilometre radius of the ruins, and unlike the big hotel chains that cater to wealthy international tourists, these tiny “mom and pop” bars cater to Mexican tourists, who are known to be very demanding when it comes to a good drink.
Many of these small places don’t even have a name; a simple sign will hang outside the shop, and chances are there might just be a little table and a few chairs outside.
So what is it that makes the Piña Coladas in these tiny places off the beaten path so amazingly good? Well first of all, many places might not have ice, so your drink certainly won’t be watered down. If ice cubes are available, make sure the water used to make them has been purified.
The next thing that makes the cocktails so good is presentation. In these humble little palapas, the drinks come in hollowed-out coconuts, not the standard humdrum bar glassware that is ubiquitous world-wide.
Only fresh ingredients are used. There’s a very good chance that the coconut milk used was extracted that very day, there’s a good chance that the pineapple juice was freshly made from a pineapple specially cut for you, and the lashings of rum in your drink are going to be generous, not the usual one ounce measure that’s used in hotels, restaurants and bars. In some cases, the person making you your drink may even ask you “How many fingers?” meaning how much alcohol you want. One finger means about one ounce, two fingers means two, etc. The author of this article enjoyed two Piña Coladas with “four fingers” of beautiful aged Bacardi rum at a tiny bar near Uxmal and has never had a better cocktail.
Finally, what makes these Piña Coladas the best in the business is the garnish: after the drinks have been shaken or stirred by the bartender, a dash of powdered cinnamon is sprinkled on the top, a large cinnamon stick is thrown into the drink, a huge orange slice is placed on the rim of the coconut, and if the bar is really striving to impress, you’ll even get a nice little cocktail umbrella.
The bad thing though, is that once you’ve had a cocktail at one of these miniature bars far from the international tourism path, you’ll never be able to drink a standard Piña Colada from a run-of-the-mill restaurant again.
Once you’re back in Cancún, a cocktail that’s generating a lot of buzz is the Spiderman; unfortunately, bartenders aren’t too keen on sharing the recipe, but apparently it has tequila and blue curaçao in it, among other things. The trick to getting the best cocktails in Cancún is to make sure you watch the bartender no matter which establishment you find yourself in, and make sure he or she doesn’t water your drink down or skimp on the alcohol!