From the delicate process of making pulque to the colorful murals that adorn the walls of pulquerias, this beloved alcoholic drink is a reflection of Mexico’s vibrant and artful drinking culture.
What Does Pulque Taste Like?
Fresh pulque has a thick and slippery texture with a slightly malty acidic flavor and a hint of alcoholic bite at the finish. It’s typically served mixed with juice, fruits, or nuts to add a natural sweetness and more flavor.
How Pulque is Made?
Making pulque is largely considered an art; there isn’t an exact science to making it. Or if there is, it’s a closely guarded trade secret passed down generations of pulque producers. There are various rituals, offerings, and superstitions surrounding the process of making pulque because even a small change in the temperature, humidity, or quality of the sap can ruin the batch.
The process of making pulque starts with the maguey plant, a relative of the blue agave used to make Tequila, which takes 12 years to mature. The sap of the mature maguey, called aguamiel, is collected and naturally fermented in large vats for 1 to 2 weeks. Before the fermentation is complete, the pulque is transferred to large barrels and shipped to markets or directly to pulque bars, called pulquerias. The drink continues to ferment during this time and should be consumed before it goes bad.
How Do You Serve Pulque?
If you are lucky enough to have pulque at a traditional pulqueria, you can expect your drink to be served in a green hand-blown glass from a large barrel on ice. The pulque will either be straight or curado, flavored with mix-ins such as fruits and nuts. A few places also offer pulque cocktails, typically pulque mixed with fruit juice, coconut water, tequila, or mezcal.
For an at-home experience, you can replicate these traditions with canned pulque. And to really round it out, serve it alongside some Mexican dishes for dinner. The sourness of the pulque makes an excellent palate cleanser between bites of rich and flavorful chicken mole, pork mole, or tamarind Jarritos and ancho BBQ chicken.