6 Mexican spirits that aren’t derived from agave

Agave is on the coronary heart of Mexican consuming tradition. With out this lustrous plant, we’d be denied many a uniquely Mexican second. A weekend in Jalisco with out tequila? A pageant in Oaxaca with out mezcal? A random Tuesday lunch with pals with out a mild, contemporary margarita?  

No, thanks.

What would one do right here in Mexico with, say, an aversion to agave? I’ve executed some analysis, and I’ve received some solutions. Every of the next six spirits is produced proper right here in Mexico and none is a product of the agave plant.

Maize vodka

What’s it product of?  Natural corn.

Maize vodka has a milder, sweeter profile than potato-based varieties. (Casa Zea)

The place is it from? Puebla, Tlaxcala

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Vodka was my most well-liked spirit in my late teenagers and early 20s. Not as a result of I needed to elegantly sip on an additional soiled vodka martini. Moderately, it was the quickest solution to lose my inhibitions and act like each different shameful school pupil within the U.S. For sure, by my mid-20s I had had my fill and by no means touched the stuff once more. That’s, till not too long ago, once I was provided a style of ZEA Spirits’ premier creation, Maize Vodka. The multicolored maize from which it’s derived is grown within the Puebla-Tlaxcala valley, the place it has been cultivated for 3,000 years. Its nice, easy style is mild but grainy and makes for a singular cocktail base. I’ve by no means tasted something fairly prefer it, and I actually loved the flavour. What’s extra, it’s nonetheless in its advertising infancy, that means it’s solely out there for buy on the attractive, artsy Casa Zea tasting home hidden on the outskirts of Puebla’s historic heart. 

What’s one of the simplest ways to drink it? Neat, on ice, or as a cocktail with ginger kombucha, contemporary lemon juice, and agave.


What’s it product of? Dasilyrion wheeler, a desert spoon plant, which has lengthy been recognized incorrectly as a part of the agave household.

Sotol grows primarily on rocky, well-drained slopes with skinny calcareous soils and tends to kind dense stands. (Unsplash)

The place is it from? Durango, Chihuahua, Coahuila

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It’s natural and dense, with a yellowish hue. It’s received a metallic facet to it, and if mezcal have been silver, sotol could be bronze. It took me 3 full weeks to attempt sotol, in any other case this text would have been out already. I went to my nook bar, Pata Negra, to inquire in the event that they carried it. They didn’t, and the supervisor Pablo was good sufficient to ask me again as soon as he might procure a bottle. I returned days later, zenned out from a yoga class, with expectations of a fast shot and a facet of peanuts. What I received was a full-blown tasting and an in depth rationalization of its 15-year distillation course of. The spirit is intense and I don’t know that I might drink a couple of, however that one feels subtle and fulfilling and nice for a special day. 

What’s one of the simplest ways to drink it? Straight.


What’s it product of? Corn, wheat bran, sugarcane

Pox was generally utilized in non secular ceremonies and festivals in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas. (Fundación Tortilla)

The place is it from? Chiapas

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Invented by the Tzotzil Mayas, pox (pronounced posh) was utilized in non secular ceremonies as a gateway to the underworld. It’s received a barely smoky, candy taste and is commonly used as a alternative for rum in cocktails. Pox is pretty new to the spirit scene resulting from strict laws that beforehand prevented its distribution exterior of Chiapas. In 2012, nevertheless, the restrictions have been lifted and pox shortly grew to become a bartender favourite. I not too long ago tried a buddy’s pox for the primary time at Destilado Urbano in Puebla’s Historic Heart and was stunned by its sweetness, which was in sharp distinction with the mezcal I had ordered for myself. It’s best served with a facet of pineapple to spotlight its fruity notes. 

What’s one of the simplest ways to drink it? Neat with a facet of fruit, or as the bottom of fruity cocktails with citrus or pineapple notes.


What’s it product of? Honey, anisette, and rum

The phrase xtabentún means “vines rising on stone” within the Mayan language. (Merida Elite)

The place is it from? Yucatán

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In case you’re on the lookout for love, this is perhaps the ticket. Based on the traditional Maya who created it, consuming Xtabentún will increase your probabilities of assembly your mate. In case you’re not available in the market, its digestive properties are nonetheless a perk. Its mild aftertaste pairs effectively with the thick warmth typically discovered within the Yucatan.

What’s one of the simplest ways to drink it? On the rocks or as a refreshing cocktail with tequila and lime. It’s additionally frequent so as to add this liquor to espresso.


What’s it product of? Espresso, rum, vanilla bean.

Kahlua can be utilized when baking desserts, and/or as a topping for ice cream, and muffins. (Unsplash)

The place is it from? Veracruz

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In 1936, Kahlúa was born within the scorching and humid state of Veracruz and shortly grew to become a fan favourite, spreading to the USA simply 4 years later. Based on its web site, it takes 7 years to supply one bottle of Kahlua. The Arabica espresso beans are grown within the shade as a substitute of the solar, that means they don’t attain maturity for a full six years. As soon as harvested, they sit one other 6 months in burlap luggage earlier than they’re roasted and mixed with rum. 4 weeks later, the liquor is prepared for consumption. 

What’s one of the simplest ways to drink it? As a White or Black Russian, an Espresso Martini, or added to espresso.

Ancho Reyes 

What’s it product of? Sugarcane and both chile poblano or chile ancho.

Carajillo ready with Ancho Reyes Authentic. (Ancho Reyes)

The place is it from? Puebla

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Don’t be misled – whereas it would strike you as filler liquor, this candy, spicy spirit has a 40% alcohol content material and a beneficiant kick. Made in Puebla with regional chiles and sugarcane from Veracruz, chiles are soaked for six months to extract most taste. There are two varieties: the Authentic is made with chile ancho, and the Verde is made with chile poblano. I had typically seen and seen the bottles at varied bars, but it surely wasn’t till my aforementioned Sotol tasting that I really sipped it. It’s enjoyable and flirty, the flavour briefly whisking me away to my incredible solo getaway to San Agustinillo, the place I spent days on the seashore sipping margaritas within the solar. A punch of picante is simply the factor a citrusy cocktail must go from good to nice.

What’s one of the simplest ways to drink it? Ancho Reyes Verde is right in a spicy margarita. Ancho Reyes Chile Ancho is commonly discovered added to a Carajillo, or just loved with lemon juice.

Bethany Platanella is a journey planner and life-style author based mostly in Mexico Metropolis. She lives for the dopamine hit that comes immediately after reserving a aircraft ticket, exploring native markets, practising yoga, and munching on contemporary tortillas. Signal as much as obtain her Sunday Love Letters in your inbox, peruse her weblog, or comply with her on Instagram.

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