Fourteen Mexican establishments appear on the 2023 list of North America’s 50 Best Bars. Number 21 on the list—for the second year running—is Guadalajara’s El Gallo Altanero, located in the heart of the city’s Colonia Americana, celebrated as the “Coolest Neighborhood in the World” by Time Out Magazine in 2022.
“What’s your secret?” I asked the bar’s owner Nick Reid, an Australian and a veteran of the tequila business.
“This bar was literally created to support small brands of agave distillers,” Reid told me. “No one else seemed to care about them, but to me agave spirits are something special, for one thing because of the amount of time it takes to make it. And then there’s the connection with nature, because it takes eight years to show. But the big companies dominate the market and I felt like theirs were the only stories being told, because they’ve got the big money.
Reid’s conclusion: “We need a platform for small brands to tell their story. I want a bar that only does small brands.”
More than a cocktail bar, Reid acknowledged that Gallo Altanero is more like a “party bar,” while admitting that “it’s a strange place.”
Strangest of all may be its name.
El Gallo Altanero means The Unyielding Rooster. The word altanero refers to the highest flying bird, but because gallos can’t actually fly, the message is: “Against all odds, I will fly!”