Boozy Times: Drinking Pulque with Tepoztecatl

A mural showing how pulque is made, at a museum in Tlaxcala.

A mural showing how pulque is made, at a museum in Tlaxcala.

Mexico has at least four major alcoholic beverages to its credit:

Like tequila and mezcal, pulque (pool-kay) is made from the fermented juice of the maguey, a type of agave (which is NOT a cactus but a big aloe vera-like plant — and a classic symbol of Mexico. We even own one.) These plants grow into giant monsters, by the way. Sotol is made from a yucca-like desert plant.

Until last weekend, I had not tried pulque. It made me a little nervous. Why? Brendan tried it not long after we moved here, and declared the texture “similar to snot” (think: aloe vera gel). And most traditional pulquerías are kind of dirty and gross — the pulque is ladeled out of big plastic buckets and the conditions are not exactly what you might call sanitary.

Yeah, not selling points for Joy. But to not try pulque is pretty lame for someone who lives in Mexico. So I had slowly been working up my nerve.


For a long time, this was a drink of the poor. Originally, before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, it was a fancy traditional drink for the Aztecs and other Mexican cultures. Tepoztecatl, in fact, was the god of pulque, drunkenness, and fittingly, fertility. Then, once the indigenous people were treated to hundreds of years of brutality by the Spanish, their favored drink started to disappear and thrived only in a few, shabby pulquerias.

In recent years, pulque has made somewhat of a comeback, as college students here in Mexico make it fashionable to drink pulque. As a result, there are now sanitized pulquerias perfect for leery patrons like me. Pulqueria La Tia Yola in Tlaxcala was upscale, clean, cheery. I ordered a flavored pulque made with pine nuts. Brendan got the pistachio.

I'm drinking my pulque out of the traditional green-glass vessel.

I'm drinking my pulque from the traditional green-glass vessel.

How was it?

Fortunately — very fortunately — it was not snot-like. More like sipping a watery yogurt (Brendan, who now considers himself a pulque expert after having tried it exactly one more time than me, branded Tia Yola’s pulque “weak.”) It tasted healthy, which is a strange feeling when you’re in a bar.


Overall, I’m not exactly eager to try it again, but am glad I worked up the nerve to tie one on with Tepoztecatl.


A saying about pulque -- basically, that pulque drinkers first turn a little red like a turkey, then you're all chatting and animated, like a monkey, then you're an over-aggresive lion..and lastly, a pig.

4 thoughts on “Boozy Times: Drinking Pulque with Tepoztecatl

  1. Julie says:

    Thanks for the review; I have similarly been trying to get my nerve up to test out the pulque… 🙂 Let me know if you find any similarly sanitary-ish spots in D.F.! Great blog btw; as a relatively-new arrival here, I’m enjoying your updates & tips!

  2. Betty Victory says:

    Muy interesante y muy bien escrito! You look great in the picure. If only pulque would make me look younger! Or, after a few, I just wouldn’t care?

    I really like your new lettering or font for El Blog de Joy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s