The Pinnacle Guide

SELVA

Oaxaca, Mexico

A celebration of the biodiversity of Oaxaca, Selva is a destination cocktail bar that takes joy in sharing the spirits and produce of its region.

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

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ENVIRONMENTAL ENDEAVOURS

As a bar dedicated to local produce, Selva has a very small footprint which it further reduces by reusing any waste from its own operations or that of its partner restaurant. The bar also supports the Agro-Biodiversity Fair in Oaxaca, supporting families exchanging grains and supporting endangered biodiversity. Every year they donate 30% of the earnings from a special cocktail to this cause.

DETAILS OF NOTE

The space also functions as a gallery for local artists that are welcomed to exhibit their art. At the time of writing there are ceramic sculptures by Isabel Sanchez, paintings by Guillermo Olguin and psychedelic sculptures by Sabino Guisu. An “alebrije” bat by Jacobo y Maria Angeles hangs in front of the painting as part of the permanent collection.

The Pinnacle Guide

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Selva Oaxaca is a bar that truly pays homage to the diversity and richness found just outside its door, from the abundance of Mexican spirits to the produce, the culture and terroir. Selva, meaning jungle in Spanish, tries to connect guests with this concept of nature, but also the delicate duality of heritage and embracing a modern idea of Mexico, far from folklore.  

Found on the first floor of one of Oaxaca’s oldest buildings, the venue was designed from an empty space with the added challenge of respecting the 17th century shell. In the end, collaborating with an architect, an interior designer and cabinet maker has resulted in this very beautiful bar. Using locally sourced materials like Tzalam wood and polished brass for the bar, a traditional handmade brick floor and wood-panelled walls and ceiling gives Selva a contemporary feeling. It intentionally does not reference how Mexican bars are decorated internationally; there’s no bright colours, day of the dead flowers or calaveras. 

One of the first impressions Selva makes on its guests is a large painting that wraps itself across two walls, commissioned specifically for the space from local artist Raul Herrera called ‘El Manantial de los Pájaros’ or in English The Spring of the Parrots. Sitting beneath this artistic jungle is contrasted by the mirrors positioned on the balcony windows to bring the life of the street inside the bar. It’s a fabulous use of space to bring Selva’s theme together. 

Just 20 minutes away from the bar is Selva’s garden where many of the ingredients on the menu are grown. Any other fresh produce requirements come from local markets and small producers, in fact the bar has been buying honey, vinegar and Pulque from the same families since opening 5 years ago. Selva also repurposes waste from its partner restaurant downstairs, utilising discarded skins and pips for infusions. Spirits are sourced from small distilleries and all the staff are very knowledgeable about the back bar, but in particular the mezcals, with guests able to ask for recommendations and tastings. It’s not all agave though, Oaxaca makes rums, whiskies, gins and amaros that Selva also stocks.

The only products not available locally are Amaros and Vermouths, which Selva were importing from Europe – however the team have begun a relationship with a local producer who makes a spicy Amaro – Amatepec – and will be supporting and nurturing their growth for extended production across the region. 

Cocktails lean towards the theatrical and gastronomic, often served in bespoke glassware or vessels, and created by the whole team who are invited to contribute to the annually-changing menus or seasonal adaptations. Each bartender is given a main ingredient and style to work on recipes before they are reviewed together. Guests can ask for classics however, and expect an excellently mixed gin (or mezcal) Martini or refreshing Paloma. 

As one of the only bars in Oaxaca to have high-end bar equipment, from Hoshizaki machines, to the integrated bar station set up, this venue regularly welcomes international bartenders and is the go-to spot for cocktails in the city. As such, bookings are recommended.

They take great pride in creating an aspirational work place and place great consideration on their team’s physical and emotional well being. They also fund language lessons for anyone on the team who would like to improve their English as Oaxaca is increasingly a tourist destination in Mexico.  

“Every interaction with team members, no matter how brief, was friendly and felt genuine. Staff were very authentic in their way of interacting - maintaining professionalism but taking good care of us.”

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