Ditch the Daiquiris: 'The Liquid Chef' Brings Mixology to Mexico

Celebrating the last night of the Cancún-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival with Junior Merino and ME Cancún

Junior Merino

Once known for a plethora of yard glasses of piña coladas, Cancún, Mexico, is not the first place that comes to mind when most people think of mixology. But Mexican-American Junior Merino, known as "The Liquid Chef," is helping to change that perspective.

During the Cancún Wine & Food Festival’s ME After Dark event, held at the at ME Cancún Hotel’s Rose Bar, Merino and his team of excited interns worked to create original concoctions such as Mezcal Avocado — which though it is a blended drink, couldn’t be further from a beach daiquiri.

Raul Petraglia, the general manager of ME Cancún, told The Daily Meal,"We are looking to add mixology to our bar and restaurant menus." In fact, "We have started experimenting already," he revealed.

Specialty cocktails, such as the ones Merino created for New York City hot spot Rayuela, would fit right into the vibe at the all-inclusive luxury hotel. In addition to Rose Bar, ME Cancún boasts two high-end restaurants: Salt, which offers Mediterranean dishes such as paella and lamb pita, and Silk, which features Japanese-style cuisine.

Petraglia says the hotel strives to bring "a special uniqueness and fresh flavors" to its cuisine. "We began a couple years ago by inviting chefs from different areas of Mexico. Now we are inviting chefs from France, Spain, and Peru to help showcase and international flare."

The hotel, which brands itself as a place to "party with style" aims to "keep things stylish and classy," explained Petraglia.

Certainly, the well-heeled crowd on Saturday at Rose Bar kept with that image, making it a perfect place to toast the last evening of the festival.

Petraglia told us guests of the hotel will soon be able to order specialty cocktails, such as the ones Junior Merino was serving up. "We try to do little classy things that help enhance the culinary experience," he said. "Taking advantage of mixology in our restaurants is one of those goals."