Quick Guide to the world of Mexican drinks
In addition to a huge variety of delicious international Long Drinks and Cocktails, Mexico also offers a lot of typical Mexican drinks with or without alcohol. Here goes a small overview and some important information on dealing with alcohol.
Drinking water in Mexico
In Mexico, drinking water is mostly sold in bottles or cans as tap water is not suitable for drinking in most parts of the country. In some private households, drinking water is sometimes also produced from chemically treated tap water. However, this water is often only tolerated for hardened stomachs. In addition, the cleaners remove organic residues, but not chemical loads.
The upscale gastronomy in tourist-developed areas will always offer clean drinking water. In small canteens and remote regions, however, you should ask for safety whether it is “Agua purificada” (purified water). Caution should also be exercised with ice cubes, washed fruits and salads. The same applies to brushing teeth. Because of the critical state of drinking water, tourists usually are recommended to enjoy bottled mineral water.
Mexican drinks non alcoholic
Of course, in Mexico there are the usual soft drinks on every corner – either from internationally known or Mexican brands. So you don’t have to do without Cola, Fanta, Sprite & friends.
But… why prefer such a thing when Mexico has extremely tasty and healthy alternatives everywhere? Decades before the “smoothie” was officially invented, Mexicans were constantly drinking this kind of delicious juices. These natural and very refreshing drinks are available almost everywhere – and the commercially available bubbles can’t stand up to comparison.
Mexicans love the so called Horchata that has been brought by the Spanish according to rumors. It is a sweet drink made from rice and cinnamon. It is served chilled, and it’s very refreshing. Especially on hot days.
“Agua Fresca” with fruit juices
For soft drinks there is also the very popular Agua Fresca, a mixture of water and fresh fruits. It is made of all available tropical fruits as oranges, pineapple, mango or papaya and it’s not only delicious, but also very healthy due to the huge amount of sun-ripened fruits being used. They go well with every meal from breakfast to dinner and are my personal favorites among Mexican drinks.
Mexican coffee does not bear much of a resemblance with the coffee variants used in Europe. Coffee lovers should not rely on enjoying the flavors they are used from home in their vacation. So if you’re looking for Capuccino & friends, you won’t find it so quickly. Except, of course, in special cafeterias, or when you happen to meet a Nespresso machine.
But in Mexico, where the coffee plant also grows mostly in the region of Chiapas, there is the special Café de olla. The drink is cooked in a clay pot with cinnamon sticks and bars made of unrefined sugar cane(piloncillos) and served very strong. This type of coffee is more likely to be found in traditional pubs and rural areas. In Mexico, Café de olla is widely known as a very tasty specialty.
Alcoholic Beverages in Mexico
Mexicans love beer. And there are very tasty Mexican beers.The local beers are lighter than Central European varieties and are quite digestible even in high heat. It is not considered rude in Mexico to drink beer straight from the bottle. This is perfectly normal in both the private sector and most restaurants.
Beer is also often served as Michelada in Mexico, iced in a glass dipped strongly in salt, and with chili sauces. Often the Michelada is still served with the beer bottle standing bottom up in the glass. This way of drinking beer is extremely popular in Mexico and is considered very refreshing. If you don’t really like it very salty, you should better order your beer in the chilled bottle.
Not all restaurants in Mexico hold a license to serve alcoholic beverages. Especially in smaller restaurants you should inquire in advance if you are not viable without beer and cocktails.
Wine in Mexico
For tried-and-tested wine lovers, Mexico might not be their paradise in terms of beverages. Only few wine grows in the north of the country, so the wine culture is limited. By the Spanish word vino, Mexicans understand all kinds of alcoholic beverages. If you are looking for the vine juice that we mean when we say wine, you should ask for vino de mesa.
But even with the right demand, the result is likely to be rather disappointing. Wine is not usually available in Mexico, or only in sweet varieties, such as cider. This applies at least to “normal” gastronomy and also many supermarkets. So if you are looking for fine wines, stick to well-developed tourist regions and fine dining. There you will also be quite happy as a wine lover with imported bottles.
Tequila, Pulque and Mezcal
The local popular liquors in Mexico are tequila, pulque and mezcal. All the three of them are made from the agave plant growing in Mexico.
Tequila is arguably the most famous high-percentage outside of Mexico. It is obtained only from the blue agave (one of 400 varieties of the plant) and is related to the mezcal. There are countless varieties, and many of them are very tasty. You can drink tequila as the well-known shots with salt and lime. But it is also available with chili sauces or sangrita, in mixed drinks or just pure like a good cognac. For the latter, of course, the quality of the drop is particularly decisive.
Mezcal is actually related to tequila. It may not only be made from the blue agave, but also from different varieties. However, only the hearts of the plant are used for the mezcal. For these to be used at all, the agave needs eight to ten years of growth. This can sometimes lead to supply problems. The agave hearts are slowly smoked for days in a covered pit. The mass is then crushed and fermented, and distilled twice. And the mezcal is ready. This Mexican drink is particularly well-known by the addition of a worm in the bottle, which can also be eaten.
For tequila and mezcal, a distinction is made between the Mixto, which only needs to contain 51% of agave, and the 100% agave. As the name suggests, the Mixto is not really recommended – except for a cheap hangover. The real aroma can only be found in 100% Agave.
And because you can only use the hearts of the agave for the mezcal, you should also drink the juice of the leaves – that’s why there is the Pulque. This is a drink that was already made by the Aztecs. For this purpose, the heart of the agave is cut out, leaving the outer leaves. In the center where the heart had been, the juice of the leaves begins to concentrate. Mexicans say the plant is crying. This juice from the leaves of the agave is then collected and fermented, but not distilled. Sometimes together with fruits to get different tastes. Pulque is a milky cloudy drink with significantly less alcohol than tequila and mezcal. For the aztecs it was the “drink of the gods”. It is mainly available in rural areas of Mexico.
After Drinking: What Mexicans do against hangover
In Mexico, it is believed that after a night with excessive drinking, headache pills are not a suitable aid. Those who have the chance, prefer to cure themselves with an ice-cold beer or a Michelada and a cocktail made from seafood or crabs. This comes with lots of hot chili and is called Vuelve a la Vida. According to some testimonials, this kind of breakfast can “reawaken the dead”. It is sold in small seafood bars, usually in the rather “Mexican” neighborhood of town.
Ley Seca: The dry law
On election days (including regional elections) and some holidays, the LEY SECA applies in Mexico – the “dry” law. On these days, for safety reasons, the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants, bars and retail is prohibited.
The Ley Seca applies to locals as much as it does to tourists. Please keep calm! If you should not be viable without a cold beer, ask in advance in your hotel if there will be a Ley Seca soon. You can safely visit the supermarket 1-2 days in advance and top up your supplies in the hotel room. Recently, in some tourist zones, the sale of alcoholic beverages is also allowed during the Ley Seca, but only in restaurants and together with food. However, it is still prohibited in bars and nightclubs and without food.
Some places may offer you during the Ley Seca to refill your beer into a can of soft drinks and let it drink you with the straw. Use such an offer only if it comes by itself – please do not try to ask other people to violate the law for your convenience. This decision, after all, everyone has to make for themselves. The fines if you get caught are extremely high.
Alcoholic drinks in public areas of Mexico
It might sound strange at least for visitors from many European countries – in Mexico, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not allowed in public areas except for restaurants and bars.
The enjoyment of the just bought bottle of beer in the next park will inevitably lead to a quick acquaintance with Mexican security officers.
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