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Instead of shots and syrupy vacation drinks, this Playa Del Carmen resort boasts speakeasies, secret island lounges, and award-winning bars.
(Courtesy Rosewood Mayakoba)
You meet your driver at a small dock off the hotel lobby. He pulls up in a small wooden fishing boat with an outboard motor and you’re off, gliding through the quiet waters of the candle-lit mangrove forest. A few turns through the trees and your destination appears: La Isla Secreta, a quiet, bohemian speakeasy hidden on a private island at Rosewood Mayakoba on Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
The word speakeasy is often overused. In the best of times, it’s a covert cocktail bar disguised by a knock or a secret code. Most times, bars are not a speakeasy in the slightest and are heavily talked about by the TikTok and Instagram crowds—what’s so secret about that?
But La Isla Secreta is a secret bar in the truest form. The island getaway is only accessible to hotel guests by advanced reservations and by the guidance of a boat driver.
Once you disembark the boat and jump up a few steps to the island getaway, you’ll find a handful of guests reclining on pillows and loungers woven from Yucatan textiles and under woven straw chandeliers. It’s transportive figuratively and literally — the soft candles fill the space and flicker in the ocean breezes while soft noises from the surrounding jungle trickle in under the music,
There’s no set bar menu, just a fully stocked bar to cater to your whims, plus pre-mixed cocktails in apothecary-style bottles. Menus are handwritten in ink on a scroll or you can stroll up to the bar and request a classic drink made with one of the tinctures and spirits dotting the bar. Fancy a classic martini? It’s pre-bottled and poured from a bottle with a hand-written tag. Also on offer are quirky Old Fashioneds and Bijous made with Mexican distillates.
La Isla Secreta isn’t the only speakeasy at Rosewood Mayakoba. If you slip behind Zapote Bar — the Playa del Carmen resort’s award-winning lobby bar — you’ll find a two-ish seat speakeasy hidden behind a slip in the wall and decorated floor to ceiling with rare (read: rare) agave bottles. Guests can book a spot and sit with an agave expert and run through side-by-side tastings of some of the tequila world’s most coveted bottlings.
Tastings have no structured format — they’re conversational and curated for the curious to explore, ask questions, and pull bottles off shelves to taste. If you’re interested in understanding the difference between the various states tequila is made in, experts will pour you a range of sips. Curious about bacanora or pechuga? There are options for you to sip through.
Secret speakeasies aside, Rosewood Mayakoba is already an excellent place to drink. The hotel’s signature bar, Zapote, earned a spot on North America’s 50 Best Bars list, while bar director Joshua Monaghan is one of Mexico’s best bartenders and a veteran of some of Mexico City’s top cocktail destinations. The watering hole has also earned accolades for its creative, far-beyond-pina-colada cocktails and a bar program that highlights wild herbs (often harvested from the on-site garden), indigenous ingredients, and other staples of Mexican heritage.
Instead of margaritas and tequila shots, Zapote Bar highlights Mexico’s vibrant drinking culture through drinks like Hoja Santa, a sherry and mezcal drink emphasized with St Germain and hoja santa, a Mexican herb similar to a peppery basil.
There’s the Wana Bana — a tequila drink infused with lemongrass, soursop, and chilli pasilla. Ingredients like sotol, forest honey, mamey, and xtabentun (a Mexican honey liqueur) take center stage in all sorts of creative applications. And of course, you can get a great martini, spritz, and yes, a margarita if your cravings call for one.
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