Drinking Mayan Madness At Las Duelistas, Mexico City’s Best Pulqueria
The ancient sacred drink of Mesoamerica: Pulque
5 Jun 2013
Situated in the heart of Mexico City, Las Duelistas is one of the busiest and best pulquerias. Pulque is known to many as ‘Mayan Madness’. Through an incredible display of paintings across every inch of the wall and ceiling, Las Duelistas takes the age-old tradition of pulque on a serious psychedelic trip.
Flying Mesoamerican gods, explosions of maddening colours and patterns transfuse the walls, surrounding your drink with the energy of Mayan cosmology.
Pulque is something of an institution in Mexico. While sitting next to an old man in another great but much smaller pulqueria in Mexico City, called Larissa [Laughter], he told of pulque’s recent comeback and surge in popularity amongst the youth and recalled a time when pulquerias’ main clientele was that of older men. A sacred drink to the Aztecs and Mayans, pulque is traditional to central Mexico.
Predating the Mesoamerican period, the inventor of pulque is unknown. Made from a cactus, or more specifically the maguey plant, pulque is created through a process of the sap’s fermentation. Available in its natural form or in different flavors such as pineapple, avena, and strawberry, Las Duelistas has an impressive menu with different ones being served each day of the week. After a few pulques, the effect is one of a dreamy drunkenness that seems so suited to Mexico’s often surreal character.
A myriad of myths and stories surround pulque’s origins. Once reserved to certain classes of people during the Mesoamerican times, pulque is said to be the drink or nectar of the GODS. Many myths relate pulque to Mayahuel, goddess of the maguey. A particular story tells of Mayahuel’s blood being the aguamiel (honey of the agave plant) collecting in the center of the plant, from which the pulque is made.
Another entertaining story tells of the god Tlacuache discovering pulque when he used his human-like hands to dig into the maguey and extract the naturally fermenting juice. Following this, he became the first drunk, and is believed to have set the meandering paths of rivers while intoxicated on the dreamy pulque.
LAS DUELISTAS PULQUERIA: Aranda 28, Col Centro between Ayuntamiento y Puente Peredo. Metro San Juan de Letran is two blocks away and Salto del agua three blocks away. Ciudad de México, Mexico.
Photography and text by Sophie Pinchetti