Sometimes the drink accompanies the food; sometimes the drink IS the food. Oaxaca has many specialty drinks. From corn-based, thick, nourishing atoles to light and refreshing fruit-infused waters, you never get tired of discovering new beverages. Check out our suggestions here for trying the next time you’re in Mexico and what you can easily make at home for a refreshing summer-time beverage.
Make at home
Make these cool drinks at home with ingredients from your garden or your local market. For a nice touch, freeze a mint leaf or rosemary sprig in your ice cubes.
Jamaica: This beautiful, dark red hibiscus-infused water is a tart and refreshing thirst quencher for hot weather. The hibiscus flower is gently boiled and then cooled. You can add water here to find the flavor concentration you prefer. Sweeten to taste. You can easily find Jamaica flowers in larger supermarkets or Latino specialty food shops in the U.S. and Canada.
Fruit-waters: Fruit waters have the actual fruit blended into the water. Take pineapple, mango, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber or ginger and cut in chunks and blend with water. You can always add some mint or basil to the mix. Some like to filter the water before drinking. Pour over ice and enjoy.
Fruit-infused waters: These waters can use the same fruits. For this method, put fruit with or without herbs in a jug of water and let sit overnight. The next day your water will be cool and delicious. Some of our favorites are watermelon and basil, cucumber and mint, and orange, mango and rosemary.
Try in Oaxaca
Try these original and tasty Oaxacan drinks on your next trip down.
Chilacayote: a refreshing drink made with a typically Oaxacan squash. There is often as much to eat as to drink. The squash, called the Fig Leaf Squash in English, looks like a type of pumpkin. It is boiled with cinnamon and sometimes pineapple. After lightly mashing, the drink is ladled into a cup meat, seeds and strings and all. This drink may not catch your eye, but it has become my go-to street drink treat. It is sweetened with piloncillo, the block of raw cane sugar you see at the market.
Champurrado: A corn-based drink with plenty of Oaxacan chocolate spiced with vanilla, anise or cinnamon, champurrado is often served with churros and can be found for breakfast or dinner, traditionally prepared for Day of the Dead festivals and Christmas.
Mezcal: the fermented, roasted maguey, a variety of agave, is distilled for a slight to heavy smoky flavor. Mezcal has had a lot of success in cocktails and mixed drinks. This Oaxaca spirit is served straight or you can ask for a cocktail with mezcal.
Tapache: You will see the tapache signs. A refreshing pineapple “beer”, tapache is a fermented pineapple drink served with a little spice, a bit tart, a bit sweet.
Tejate: Ground corn, cocoa, mamey seed and the Rosita cacao flower are ground together to form a paste and mixed by hand until foam appears. You will find this drink on the streets in Oaxaca City.
Atole: Like the others, based on corn, atole can be infused with cinnamon or pecan or pine nuts but also can be mixed with fruit like strawberries or pineapple. Atole can easily be found around the center of Huatulco.