A chat with Jose Luis, head bartender at Licoreria Limantour in Mexico City

Jose Luis is the head bartender at Licoreria Limantour in Mexico City, which is currently ranked the world's 6th best cocktail bar in the world.

It was a great honour for us to catch up with Jose to learn how he got started making cocktails, what the cocktail scene in Mexico City is like, what flavours he likes to work with and so much more.

Hey Jose, can you briefly explain how you got into making cocktails and how you became the head bartender at Licoreria Limantour?

I started in the world of hospitality 17 years ago. I started because one of my friends told me about the economic benefits of working in this industry. Years later I found the passion of this profession, and I will never leave it.

When we opened Limantour 11 years ago, I started together with 4 more friends, 6 months later I got promoted as Head Bartender. I think it was because I was the person who showed the most responsibility, especially because we were all very young, and we were in a period of great partying.

What is the cocktail scene like in Mexico and what does it mean to rank so highly in the world's best bar list?

The bar scene in Mexico is constantly growing, but I feel that it still needs to mature, and it also seems important that it diversifies. In my opinion, what makes the world's cocktail capitals great is their diversity, in terms of nationalities, knowledge and concepts.

Being on the lists, regardless of position, is a recognition of the entire team and, without a doubt, requires us to maintain a standard since almost all the people who come to the bar come with an expectation, which means that we have to work double to meet those expectations, and make our customer's experience the best.

What cocktail have you created that you are most proud of?

For a couple of years our cocktails were 100% based on what we read in books or saw on the internet. I think that the first cocktail that I developed in a "different" way was the VICU√ĎA, which is a cocktail in which we collaborated with two other colleagues, and which included a little more research, testing, and development of tools to achieve it.

It all started trying to investigate new preservation techniques, we discovered that smoking was a way and it was not modern at all, it was very, very old. We wanted to apply this technique to one of the products that lost characteristics faster, which was pineapple, so we thought that with this we could have a juice with a longer shelf life.

While there is no significant impact on shelf life, the resulting flavor was delicious. Using FOOD PAIRING, we found that apple wood had an aroma similar to pineapple, so we smoked pineapples with this wood, made a juice, and then mixed it with mezcal, pisco, and agave syrup.

What are some of your favorite ingredients or tools to work with right now?

Regarding the ingredients, celery is my favorite. About tools, in this case digital, my favorite is foodpairing.com, it helps me a lot to understand which ingredients are related to the product I want to work with.

What advice would you share with people just getting into making cocktails at home?

I think the best thing is to invest in having all the necessary tools, they don't have to be professional or luxurious, but there is nothing sadder than reading a delicious recipe and not being able to make it because something is missing.

What are your go-to cocktails when you have a bunch of friends over to watch some sports?

I think that the punches are the best option, they are simple to prepare, they are very showy, and they generally have a lot of alcohol.

Outside of Licoreria Limantour, what are some of your favorite bars to visit and why?

I really enjoy going to Baltra, which is one of our bars, since it is very intimate and they make very good dry martinis. I really like going to Vigneron because they have great service and great wines. But in general I enjoy bars that are fun and not pretentious.

What advice would you give to folks who want to venture into mixology as a profession?

Being patient is a profession in which you can grow very quickly, but not in a solid and real way. I think that if you want to make a career that lasts a long time, you have to be patient with the processes of the places where you work, and the people who teach you.

Where do you see the cocktail industry going in the next 5-10 years?

I think at some point in this time, the hype is going to pass, and we're going to go back to being the bartenders we were many years ago. Without so many trips, without so much fame, without so much media and brand attention. I think that in the future we will just be normal bartenders, and that's not bad at all.

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