What is pulque?

Pulque is a Mexican alcoholic drink that has been around for a long time. It’s not common to see it outside of Mexico to my understanding, except for a few canned and bottled products available in USA.

It is made from agave but created differently to mezcal or tequila. You can find this drink in pulquerias or some bars around Mexico.

img_1331

To my understanding from my recent visit to Mexico, this is how pulque is made…

This unique drink is made from harvesting “agua miel” honey water from the top of the agave. They scrape out the inside of an agave that is ready and it reproduces agua miel daily. This agua miel is fermented for a few days to create pulque. Its alcoholic content is about 3-4% depending on the length of fermentation. If it is left to ferment for longer the alcohol content is higher but the drink becomes sour, where if the drink isn’t left as long then it would be sweeter, but not as strong. It is generally served within 1-2 days after fermentation depending on the venue. Fresh is best. The same agave can be used daily for a to 3-6 months from my understanding.

img_1294

This cloudy milky looking drink is served natural or can be blended with cucumber and chili or other house blends. Having tried it a few times, it is a little different depending on where you get it from. Most of the time when served naturally it has a slimy texture to it, similar to drinks made from aloe vera. It is said to contain lots of good vitamins and protein.

You can watch a video about pulque production here.

If you are in Mexico, do try it!

Advertisements

Mezcalogia – Oaxaca City, Mexico

img_8749

I’ve found that when you work at a bar, there can be occasional perks. One of those perks is knowing a network of people that work in bars worldwide. Finding recommendations can be difficult, but I asked a friend, that suggested some places to visit during my stay in Oaxaca.

Mezcalogia was suggested to me and I’m so glad it was. During my time in Oaxaca I had been to Mezcalogia a few times. I enjoyed a drink while chatting with the staff or other patrons. One night I was relaxing with a mezcal and met the author of a book I had just started reading a few weeks before that night, John McEvoy, the author of Holy Smoke! it’s Mezcal!

This is a bar for locals and tourist to enjoy. It is quite small with only 7 tables and the bar to sit at, but the atmosphere is always enjoyable… for me at least. They have the Mezcalogia range of mezcales available to buy, in 1oz, 2oz or by the bottle. This range is an extremely small batch and generally contains mezcal from rare agave.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They also stock the full range from Agave de Cortés, El Jolgorio and Nuestra Soledad. These mezcales are also offered by one ounce, two ounce or the bottle, but sometimes they also stock half bottles of some products, to help with the decision.

Along with the mezcales, they also stock two gins made from agave, and a few artisanal beers. If these options aren’t what you are looking for, you can look out for the changing cocktail board or speak to the staff for help.
You may be lucky enough to listen to live music or a DJ if it’s the weekend. Pop in and see what you think!
Mezcalogia’s details…

Address: Calle Manuel Garcia Vigil #509, Centro, Oaxaca City

Phone: 044 951 514 2734

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Mezcalogia/485097061637194

Hours: Sun-Thur 6pm – 1am, Friday & Saturday 6pm – 2am

Mezcalillera – Oaxaca City, Mexico

Walking along the streets of Oaxaca and you can find some interesting shops. One afternoon I was walking the streets and found the doorway of Mezcalillera. From the footpath I could see many beautiful bottles of mezcal on display, so I HAD to enter! What sort of mezcal fan would I be if I just walked past?


During the day, the display looks beautifully presented, I haven’t been during the night time but I would have liked to. If anyone is interested in mezcal, I suggest coming here to find out more. They have pictures of some agaves on the wall behind the counter.


If you are a collector of miniature bottles or would like 50ml sample bottles they also have them for sale here from a few producers.

They are advertised as a bar on Facebook, having not been upstairs, I don’t know if they have more seating than the few stools at the counter. With the trading hours, I suggest they are more of a bottle shop than a bar.

Mezcalillera’s details…

Address: Murguía #403 A, Centro Histórico, Oaxaca City

Phone: 044 951 514 1757

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mezcalillera

Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am – 9pm, Sunday 12pm – 8pm

Mezcal made with soul

After visiting a few palenques recently, I thought I would share the process of mezcal. Mezcal prices are quite high in Australia, but I believe they are worth it and more so after my visit to Oaxaca. Mezcal is made with love, soul and skill! I’m not saying other products aren’t, but the traditional mezcal process hasn’t changed with technology in the palenques I visited. I’m sure you can find a factory mass producing mezcal, but not with the brands I visited.

Starting with the base ingredient, agave, which can take up to 40 years to grow for some varieties. You will mostly find mescal made from espadin agave because it is commonly farmed in Oaxaca and takes about 8-10 years to grow. Some agave including espadin are grown in the wild but with the increased interest globally for mezcal, the supply of wild agave is decreasing.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1085.

Once the agave is about to die, it will grow a shoot into the air.  The producer will harvest the agave by cutting the leaves off the piña (heart) of the agave and transport them back to their palenque. They are cut (depending on the size) to be prepared for the cooking process.

They start a fire in the horno (earth oven) and put rocks on the fire to heat up. Some producers will add fibers from previous batches to protect the piñas from burning. On goes the agave and then dirt is placed on top to seal the oven. During this process it takes about six workers as it needs to seal quickly. The horno will be left to cook the agave for three to four days. This converts the starch inside the agave into fermentable sugars.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0391.

When the cooked agave arise from the oven, they are cut up into smaller pieces for crushing and transferred to the crushing pit. This stone pit contains a tahona wheel (stone wheel) that rolls around crushing the agave into fibers. The wheel is heavy and normally powered with a horse, which will turn the wheel around for about three hours per day.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1096.

With the fibers crushed, they are moved into a one hundred litre wooden fermentation tank along with water. The tanks are left to naturally ferment with wild yeast for about four days.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0393.

The tank is emptied with each distillation. They add the fibers and liquid of the tank into the stills. During my visits all the stills have been made from copper but I have heard some producers use clay pot stills. The two fifty to three hundred stills will run for around four hours and are heated by fire, creating a distillate that will be around forty to fifty percent. When the still heats to seventy eight degrees, the alcohol vapours will rise up the still and along the pipe, into a condenser. The condenser, will convert the vapour into liquid again. Then it will go through another distillation and come out somewhere between seventy to ninety percent.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1064.

The new spirit is then stored in tanks until it is tested and ready to be bottled. It can be rested in large glass bottles and surprisingly mature and round out the mezcal. Some producers will age their mezcal in wooden barrels before bottling.