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I am very excited to be publishing this guest post by Ellie Cusack, an English culture-enthusiast who fell in love with everything Mexican while living in Puebla. You can read more on her experience of Mexico on her blog, Tea and Tacos, at elliecusack.wordpress.com.
Puebla’s Top Tipples
Puebla’s highly specialist cuisine is often lauded to be amongst the best in Mexico, and its best-known culinary dishes are well documented (and nowhere better than here on Soy Poblana!). But besides the more obvious tequila and mezcal, Puebla is also home to some lesser-known, but no less delicious, beverages. Here’s my pick of Puebla’s best sips:
It’s obligatory to use the words rustic, characterful and artisanal to describe La Pasita. It is indeed all those things, but more plainly speaking it’s a dusty time machine back to Puebla of old, 1916 to be precise, when the famous cantina was first opened. Their most notorious raisin liqueur, Pasita (after which the bar is named), is served in a shot glass with a chunk of cheese and a wrinkly raisin. Despite appearances, however, these do not date back to 1916. There are lots of lively bars in the Barrio de Los Sapos, so it’s ideal to swing by to kick off a night on the town. But be warned, legend has it the number of Pasitas knocked back correlates exactly with the number of blocks one is able to stagger from the door before passing out… The original La Pasita is located at 5 Oriente #602, but there’s a second branch at 3 Sur #504, both found in the Centro Histórico.
Pulque is a Mexican drink that dates back to Meso-American times in central Mexico, even featuring famously on a wall carving inside Cholula’s pyramid. Like its brothers tequila and mezcal, it is made from the maguey (agave) plant native to Mexico, but is lower in alcohol content and more akin to a beer than a spirit. Plain pulque has an unusual yeasty taste, but it also comes in a variety of more easily-drinkable flavours such as strawberry and horchata. Pulque has a shelf life of less than 24 hours so it’s essential to drink it fresh – and preferably straight from the maker. Head to Hanuki inside Mercado Zapata to enjoy a glass of pulque and traditional botanas (Mexican snacks). Rompope Although eggnog arrived in Mexico with the Spanish conquistadors, its derivative rompope was conceived by Pueblan nuns. It’s creamy and delicious, and usually devoured by las abuelas tucked up at home: you’re more likely to find it on the dessert menu served with peaches than in any hip and happening drinking hole. It’s made in a variety of pretty pastel-coloured flavours such as pine nut, coconut, pistachio, strawberry, and chocolate. If you’re in heaven in an ice cream parlour, this one’s for you. The shops along ‘Sweets Street’ 6 Oriente, Centro have lots of rompope for sale – I especially like La Colonia, where you can peruse the local talavera and watch it being made in the workshop as you sample the various rompope flavours and make the tricky decision of which one, two or three to take away with you.
The warm and temperate climate of Puebla makes it ideal for growing apples so there’s lots of local cider for sale, especially in Cholula. My personal favourite, however, is the Sidra Rosada (pink cider) by Gota Real, made and sold in Huejotzingo. It’s very sweet, but also crisp and refreshing, perfect for enjoying as you wander around the grounds of the Franciscan Convent in the sunshine. Sidra Rosada is sold in a number of shops around the Zócalo in Huejotzingo, along with lots of pickled fruits, vegetables and chilies.
Tepache is a mildly alcoholic beverage made from the flesh and rind of pineapple, which is mixed with brown sugar, cinnamon and sometimes clove and left to ferment for a few days before being served ice cold. It’s essentially pineapple juice with a delectable tang. It was hugely popular among the indigenous Nahua peoples and continues to be a favoured home-brew in Puebla. Like pulque, you won’t normally find this served in bars, but it’s readily available in the local markets. Best drunk as it is served – in a plastic sandwich bag with a straw – for the truly authentic Mexican experience. My favourite tepache is sold inside La Acocota market; like most vendors, the stall doesn’t have a name, but it’s not far from the main entrance just to the left.
What are you waiting for? Go and wet your whistle!