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In Mexico City, there’s a mixologist by the name of José Luis León. He’s the bar manager of three spectacular cocktail spots—Licorería Limantour, Baltra, and Xaman—and has a reputation for being one of the best hosts. After competing in cocktail competitions around the globe, and partnering with big brands and other establishments, he’s sharing some knowledge about his journey and the bars he runs.
Whitewaller spoke with Luis León about managing the three bars, what he’s learned in cocktail competitions, and what’s not-to-miss at Licorería Limantour.
WHITEWALLER: We originally connected because of Licorería Limantour—an amazing bar in Mexico City, and a spot that recently collaborated with PUBLIC Hotel in New York for a New Year’s Eve party. Tell us a bit about the space and your role there, and the other establishments in CDMX that you’re working with.
JOSÉ LUIS LEÓN: Licorería Limantour is our home; a place where you can relax and relay in the fact that you will get a proper cocktail and also and amazing experience. I’m the bar manager of Limantour, Baltra, and Xaman.
WW: Licorería Limantour has been listed as one of the top bars in the World’s 50 Best Bars list. What do you feel earned you that recognition?
LL: I think that more than feel the recognition we feel more committed to our clients to offer more quality and always improve what we are doing.
WW: Can you tell us a bit about your other bars, Baltra and Xaman?
LL: Baltra is an experience that everybody should live once in lifetime. A cozy, heart-warming place. You transport yourself to another era. The cocktails and the place…just amazing.
Xaman is a mystic place. It’s like traveling to a part of the jungle and tasting the traditional flavors of Mexico in a cocktail but mixed with all of this magic that surrounds the place. Everything works to make you have a great time.
WW: You’ve won an array of cocktail competitions—including representing Mexico in the 2015 Diplomatico World Tournament. Tell us a bit about those and what you learned in the process of competing:
LL: I’ve learned that you have to keep moving forward, learn everything you can, read, and be updated.
WW: When we traveled to CDMX, we tried several of your cocktails at Licorería Limantour and they were all very different. What’s a house cocktail that’s always on the menu that you recommend guests trying?
LL: Depends on your taste and your mood, but one of the favorites is Mr. Pink—fresh, classic Limantour. I think it’s for everyone. And if you want to get more Mexican, probably our Margarita.
WW: You’ve engaged in various partnerships, such as being an ambassador for Altos Tequila. Is there an upcoming collaboration you’re looking forward to?
LL: Hope so! We love to share with people from other places the happiness and the flavors of Limantour and Mexico.
WW: Have you recently traveled anywhere, or been to any specific lifestyle locations, that’s given you personal or professional inspiration?
LL: Just walking from home to the bar is always an inspiration. The smells, the people, the colors, the vibes. Everything works for inspiration.