Updated 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Aztec culture reborn with a drink

The Aztecs revered pulque, reserved it for the highest social classes and for the most majestic occasions.

At present, pulque is available in numerous flavors and grades, and it is now possible to see the same to a pair of tattooed millennials sipping pulque strawberry flavor from a one liter container outside a hipster bar than peasants with cowboy hats at the same time they produce and drink it in the field.

But it is very unlikely for pulque to appear on the shelves of the local liquor store.

For decades, attempts to bottle the white liquid have failed because it continues to ferment rapidly after being produced.

Pulque has long had the reputation of being the drink of poor peasants, and many assumed that it was produced under unhealthy conditions, something that people that has kept the tradition consider untrue.

Antonio Gómez, a pulque producer from the community of Santiago Cuautlalpan in the region of Tepotzotlán, north of Mexico City, is among those who make the drink in the old fashion: hollowing out the pulpy heart of the maguey and using a kind of siphon to extract the sugary liquid that is in that section of the plant. The liquid at that stage, known as "mead", has little or no alcohol content.

The liquid passes to plastic tanks for fermentation, which can take only 12 hours. With the incorporation of fruit juices you get a product with a flavor of guava, mango, coconut, strawberry or pineapple. With 6 percent alcohol content after fermentation, it is almost as strong as an average beer.

Gomez said that pulque was once served in some parts of Mexico in the morning, as well as for health reasons.

"Those of old say they did not drink coffee; They ate some tortillas with beans and a pulque on their breakfast, " he said. "Many people, many doctors give it out as medicine”.

Gomez said he is worried about the ancient fieldd of maguey that once were the livelihood of entire farms as they are being destroyed to make way for homes and shopping centers.

In areas around Tepotzotlan, among the pulque fans we find workers, farmers and urban residents who for the last three years have organized a type of pulque festival accompanied by food, horse rides, music, pulque ingestion competitions and loaded donkeys with wooden barrels filled with drink.
Ricardo Gallardo León is a 20-year-old resident of Mexico City who drinks in the "Las Duelistas" pulqueria, downtown.

"I like it because it's something that our ancestors inherited, and I like it because my family also takes it and it's something we should not lose," he said.

Nowadays, pulquerias are about to disappear because of everything that was already mentioned. The local government requirements for the pulque drink to be kept as a cultural treasure are described by the farmers as unreachable.