Pulque – The story behind the drink


Pulque is another traditional beverage (3-4 % alcohol) made from the juice of the maguey or agave plant. Is this beverage the same as tequila? No, tequila is fermented and destilled to make a strong alcohol, while pulque is a milky , slightly foamy and somewhat viscous beverage made by fermeting (not destilling) the fresh sap of certain types of maguey.

There are many versions of where pulque comes from. Some people say it was one of the earliest alcoholic beverages produced in Central America, others say pulque originated as part of  some religious ceremonies and offered to Tepoztecatl, an Aztec god.


What ever the case, a study of pulque has shown that it is a nutritious drink that provides among other things Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid as well as a benefitial microbial community for the human digestive system.

Unlike tequila, most Mexicans turn up their noses at the mention of pulque. It is considered a crude, peasant drink, and not nearly as desirable as beer and other spirits. Part of pulque‘s bad reputation comes from years of abuse by alcoholic campesinos (farmers), who would drink gallons of it daily, starting in the morning and going all day.


Pulque was sold in casual backyard type business called pulquerias. Usually just a few tables and chairs, sometimes pigs, chickens, or dogs were kicked around at one’s feet. The pulque was traditionally served in calabash gourds, but by the 1970’s, plastic buckets were commonly used. You can still find pulque vendors with their donkeys carrying the pulque bags, but although it may be sad to say, the golden age of pulque and the pulquerias is over now being part of the story of Mexican drinks.

pulque vendor

Posted by Magdiel

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