Mexico City, Mexico
Pulque at Expendio de Pulques Finos los Insurgentes
Drink like the Aztecs with a measure of Mexico's indigenous grog, pulque – the milky fermented sap of the maguey plant. Mesoamericans in this part of the world considered it sacred, and you will too if you order it at Expendio de Pulques Finos los Insurgentes.
The bar may be a bit of a mouthful (locals condense it to la Pulcata), but it's an eclectic and kitsch place. It is a magnet for all sorts of people in the Roma Norte district at the heart of our huge capital. Preppy types resplendent in sports-casual, office clerks, dandy hipsters, tourists and students with their backpacks: all find their natural niche somewhere in this fiercely egalitarian establishment's three floors plus terrace. Aside from the pictures of musicians, the decor speaks of a shrine to local booze: there are maps of the Mexican Republic where that other sacred plant grows, the mezcal-providing agave, alongside painted legends and proverbs about pulque consumption.
And as you'd expect from this level of devotion, la Pulcata's attention to authentic detail is impressive – which is what makes it our top recommendation for the full pulque experience. Here the 'agua de las verdes matas' (water of the green plants) is served au naturale or in curados (flavored varieties) with, for example, oats, prickly pear or cherry, in half-, one- or two-litre jars. More than enough to drown your sorrows, get you chatting or get you dancing, depending on your initial state of mind.
If the viscosity, smell and taste of pulque are not your thing (they're not everyone's), the bar also lays on its house mezcal, and mezcal creams in an abundance of flavours, along with beers, spirits and wines: 'El que a este mundo vino y no toma vino, ¿a qué chingados vino?' asks the winelist ('Whoever who came to this world and don’t drink wine, why the fuck did they come?'). A very good question.
A word of warning, though: don't get so drunk that you forget about the anti-theft system – unless a waitress gives you a ticket to prove at the exit that your bill has been paid, they don't let you leave. No bad thing.- Paola del Castillo, Time Out México
Insurgentes sur 226, Roma, México, DF. www.lapulqueria.org.