Tequila tends to get the most recognition amongst Mexico’s national drinks, but there is another beverage that has pre-Hispanic origins that you may not be aware of that is known as pulque. It is so renowned in its native country, in fact, that it is considered to be one of the most important traditional beverages in Mexico. It is made by fermenting the sap, also known as mead, which is extracted from different varieties of agave or pulque maguey. When you take a vacation in Mexico in a destination like Sierra Lago, you will surely discover opportunities to try the exotic beverage for yourself!
Let’s take a closer look at this intriguing ancient beverage:
Where Pulque Comes From
Mexico is home to 70 species of pulque maguey plants which produce different types of mead that can be extracted from them. These varieties of maguey are distributed throughout Mexico and are especially common in states such as Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Coahuila, Durango, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Veracruz.
The state that produces the largest amount of pulque in Mexico is Hidalgo where, for example, more than 206 million liters of pulque (which is equivalent to 82 percent of the total national production) were produced in 2010 alone. Trailing far behind in second place is the state of Tlaxcala with roughly 13 percent, and the State of Mexico comes in a very distant third place with little more than 2 percent.
The Maguey Plant
The maguey pulquero plant thrives in areas where there are only slight changes in temperature rather than drastic highs and lows. Steady water levels are also important; if the plants are deprived of enough water, they can develop or mature slowly, while if they are overwatered, the sugar levels become diluted which lowers the quality of the end product.
The maguey plants take between eight and twelve years to bloom. During this time of maturation, the tlachiqueros (individuals who collect the mead from the plants) take the opportunity to extract the sugary sap and turn it into pulque. Each plant can produce between five hundred and one thousand liters of mead throughout its productive life. The plant is made up of long, thick, dark green leaves called pencas which crop up from its short stem known as a pina. This is where the mead is drawn from, and once the harvesting is finished, the fermentation process can begin.
The Finished Product
Even though pulque is one of the most beloved traditional drinks in the richly diverse Mexican culture, it only represents about 10 percent of the total alcoholic beverages produced in the country. The typical alcoholic content of pulque is around 4.25 percent, but it is sometimes made with as much as eight percent alcohol. The finished product has a thick and viscous consistency, is white in color and has a slightly sour flavor.
During your next vacation to Sierra Lago, make sure to give pulque a try when you are feeling adventurous. The exclusive and exotic drink from Mexico will definitely leave a lasting impression on you!