Welcome to the first ever edition of Boozy Tuesdays! I figured I needed a special series to go along with my affinity for sampling adult beverages all over the world. I decided to start small with a little taste of a relatively unknown drink (outside of Mexico).
No doubt, you’ve heard of Corona. You also probably know of tequila, and maybe even mezcal, my favorite Mexican spirit. But unless you’ve spent some time in central Mexico, especially around, say, 500 years ago, you’ve probably not heard of pulque.
What is pulque?
The simple answer is it’s a boozy beverage made by fermenting the sap of the agave plant, or maguey as they call it here in Mexico. Unlike tequila and mezcal, which are also made from maguey (more on mezcal specifically next week), Pulque is meant to be drank directly after fermentation, which could mean only a few hours or even up to a couple of weeks. It’s an ancient drink, often referred to as the drink of the gods, and it has a helluva interesting history.
Pulque’s origins can be traced back over 1000 years, where it was used in ceremonies by the indigenous priests, including the Aztecs, as a sacred drink. It’s said the priests also fed it to sacrificial victims to help ease their pain (lovely!) and it was used by noble classes to celebrate victories. It’s actually pretty healthy too, containing vitamins and probiotics, one reason the Aztecs also fed it to pregnant women.
After the conquest of the Spanish, it became popular with all classes and lost its sacred status. However, pulque is still treated with a high level of superstition in Mexico today. For instance, my guide to Xochimilco in Mexico City insisted that when a Mexican man drinks pulque, it gives him the strength to have sex with 60 women. But he also kept asking me to go to a pulquería with him after the tour was over, so I’m not sure his interests were purely educational…
What does pulque taste like?
I had the opportunity to taste the filmy drink my first week here in Mexico.The unflavored pulque looks almost like milk with a frothy top. It’s an weird consistency, with a kind of yeasty taste and a bit dry. We all agreed it tasted just a little bit off, but supposedly that is the way it is supposed to taste. It notoriously doesn’t have a long shelf life, so don’t be expecting to see it at your local BevMo anytime soon.
We tried a few different flavors, including strawberry and kiwi, which are called curado, or cured pulques that have been fermented alongside different fruits. All were served with cinnamon on top in a special bowl that we all had to pass around and share.
I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t a huge fan either. The fruity versions would have been refreshing if it weren’t for the sour aftertaste. While it wasn’t my favorite, I would definitely try it again! It is the drink of the gods, after all.
Have you ever tried pulque? Would you recommend it?