In Yucatán there are several beverages with great tradition, delighting visitors and locals, whether for their ingredients (honey, flowers, corn), the recipe, the technique that is used for their preparation, or their unique flavor. The liqueurs that mainly stand out are Xtabentún, henequén (sisal) liqueur, balché, and pox (pronounced “posh”). We’ve prepared a guide that will help you to identify them…you will surely want to try them all!
XTABENTÚN LIQUEUR (Morning flower or Mayab flower)
This ancestral Maya drink was used during ceremonies in Yucatán and its evolution has allowed it to be known all over the Peninsula as a liqueur with a strong aroma and a flavor that goes perfectly with the flavors of our regional gastronomy. It’s made from fermented honey from the Yucatecan melipona bees, anise, and rum. It is naturally distilled and can be mixed in cocktails, sipped on its own, chilled, or along with a coffee. By the way, Xtabentún liqueur is part of one of the most famous legends in Yucatán: the Xtabay legend.
If you visit Yucatán you must try it as a digestive after a delicious meal, take a bottle to enjoy back home or as a gift for a loved one. It is available in the Yucatecan brands D’Aristi and Argáez in presentations of 500 ml and 750 ml, as well as in special editions.
Made from henequén (sisal), the plant that gave fame to Yucatán, is a liqueur with a flavor similar to mezcal but with a unique taste. It is extracted from the fermentation and distillation of the mature “pineapples” of Agave Fourcroydes (the name of the henequen plant), resulting in a dry liqueur with a really nice flavor, that’s finished in a white oak cask.
It’s a unique beverage that you can find in different versions, plain or blended with “nance,” mandarins, and lime, made with exporta quality by the brand KUUCH.
This alcoholic beverage is common among Maya cultures all over the southeast region. In the case of Yucatán it is used for ceremonies and rituals as an offering to the gods, for example during Hanal Pixán ceremonies, and even as a kind of medicine for different diseases.
It is made from fermented balché tree bark, together with melipona honey, cinnamon, anise, and water. This preparation is boiled for hours and is left to settle for days in order to acquire a sweet and intense flavor. It is served in a “lek” or gourd. Its consumption is reserved for ceremonies and it is handcrafted in Yucatecan communities.
“Pox” is the traditional beverage from the Maya communities from the Chiapas highlands. This distilled beverage, made in Yucatán from corn, is considered a sacred element that is used for mystical ceremonies and as a symbol of fertility. Julio de la Cruz, owner of La Poshería (Paseo Montejo #486 between 41 and 43), tells us that each sip is a complete experience: it gives joy, heals the body, and comforts the soul. It has an intense flavor, similar to mezcal or tequila, and can be served cold, by itself, or in cocktails, but ideally you should try it in the traditional way, by itself.
It is made from organic corn and water, in a traditional process that Julio has recovered and preserved from an ancestral recipe. If you want to live the pox experience, go to La Poshería, a shop that first opened in 2010 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, and in Mérida in 2015, offering this beverage under the brand Pox Bankilal (that in tsotsil means “guardian and protector”). There you will be able to try the products and find traditional pox as well as flavors such as cacao, coffee, coconut, and vanilla.
Do these beverages tempt you? Don’t miss trying them, take one as a souvenir or as a gift. Share your photo with us having a pox, Xtabentún or a henequén liqueur.
By Violeta H. Cantarell
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