The traditional Mexican drinks alcoholic and not, are more than just margaritas and tequila although they are definitely delicious on their own too. But there are many more different tastes to try other than just these two well known drinks. There’s almost a different drink to try for every area. For any visitor travelling to Mexico you need to try both mexican drinks alcoholic or non-alcoholic for a true cultural experience.
Most people are pretty familiar with Mexico’s most famous drink: the Margarita. But if you’ve travelled south often you probably know that there is way more variety than these class mexican cocktails on and off the beach.
Some of these “bebidas” are super regional, others are acquired tastes and might not be to your liking but plenty are delicious. So here’s my insider guide to the best south of the border mexican drinks, alcoholic and otherwise, that you should be trying next time you travel south!
Traditional Mexican Drinks Without Liquor
I was never thrilled about trying Atole because the texture is a little off-putting. But if you’ve been in Mexico any amount of time you’ll know that Atole is part of the most important meal of the day.
Made from a mixture of masa (corn hominy), piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar) and water with cinnamon for flavor along with vanilla or chocolate mixed in at some point; Atole is Mexico’s warming breakfast drink choice that gives a good start to the day. A glass of atole and a tamale will have you waking up happy!
2. Traditional Mexican Drinks: Champurrado
I’ve never tried Champurrado which is basically chocolate atolé, but if it tastes as good as its namesake–plus the name sounds much more fun to say!–then count me in!
3. Aguas Frescas
Fresh-squeezed fruit drinks are so refreshing on a hot day! The typical English translation of aguas frescas as ‘fresh waters’ or even just ‘cool water’ doesn’t do justice to their simplicity. A typical agua fresca is a perfect drink of water and fresh fruits. It comes from street carts and usually costs less than a dollar USD per serving depending on how big your cup size is.
4. Agua de Jamaica
Agua de Jamaica is one of the traditional Mexican drinks of choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Made by boiling up dried hibiscus flowers with water before cooling it down to dilute their sharpness in sweetness with lots of sugar added on top!
This iconic “bebida Mexicana” can also mean “water from Jamaica” since these particular plants are native only there but I like calling them simply “agua” (which means “water”) because this liquid has many uses throughout Mexico–it’s also used in Mexican cooking.
5. Cafe De Olla
I know a lot of people either never really like or take to café de olla. Personally, I love it! It can be hard sometimes to find a good cup though.
Cafe de Olla literally means “coffee from saucepan.” This hot drink is sweetened with piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), and has an earthy flavor that some might say tastes like cinnamon thanks in part for its use of mole spices such as cocoa powder and cloves.
For those who love a little spice in their life, chamoyadas are for you. The unique hot sauce flavor of the Peruvian pepper ayar is accented by sweet chili and fruity tastes.
Chewy ice cubes that have been shaved are added to explode on your tongue and cut the spicy flavor. It is a taste sensation but if you are not a fan of spicy drinks this one might not go down that well. It’s worth a try though, you might just like it.
It’s hard to resist the siren call of Ponche around Christmas time. It typically includes a mixture of winter fruits, including guavas and tejocotes which are small little fruits, you have to have this for the best ponche experience!
Don’t mistake this drink for “pozole” which is the corn hominy soup, it’s a cold chocolate drink made from fermented corn dough AND water – flavoured with cacao! The drink originates from Pre-Columbian Mexico and is most well known in Chiapas and Tabasco states.
It’s a real treat on a hot day and is believed to fight diseases as well.
Mexican horchata is a refreshing drink that’s been flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla. You can also get pink versions, which are usually made from rice rather than creamy coloured oats like their white counterparts.
While there isn’t really any difference between them other than the colour of course – they are both pretty tasty.
Tejate is a popular Oaxacan drink that’s made from the paste of toasted maize, cacao beans and mamey pits. This fermented foam may not look all too appealing at first glance but it tastes surprisingly good.
It’s a popular drink in Oaxaca among the indigenous peoples and although it doesn’t look that appealing you may want to give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Even though it’s one of the most traditional Mexican drinks, tejuino is an acquired taste and isn’t for me. It tastes like sweet corn dough mixed together in a watery substance and then topped off with some lemon ice shavings on top!
This cold drink can only really be enjoyed during hot Mexican days when everything seems more refreshing than usual. So even though it’s not my choice, it might be tasty to you.
This tradition of a Mexican drink is made with fermented fruit and is called tepache. Typical made from juicy pineapples but apples or guavas can be used in place instead if desired to give it a definitely unique flavor.
A traditional way to enjoy this drink is by mixing it with piloncillo sugar before being served cold topped off by cinnamon sticks.
Mexican Drinks Alcoholic
If you haven’t heard of tequila you’ve probably been living on an island. Tequila is one of the most traditional mexican drinks, of course, in Mexico and well known world-wide.
Tequila is made from fermented blue agave plants in the town of Tequila, Jalisco. Although it’s primarily made in Jalisco state, Tequila has roots literally everywhere across Mexico!
There are many different types of tequilas from cheap to super expensive so chances are you can find one that goes down smooth, either on its own or added to a classic margarita.
You may not have known it, but mezcal is basically tequila that isn’t produced in Tequila. And the taste? It usually has a far smokier flavor than your average drink thanks to adding smoke-flavor during production – so don’t be surprised when people compare them!
Lately though, there seems to be somewhat of an increase in popularity for Mexico’s national spirit with a mezcal cocktail being on many a restaurant menu.
It’s surprising that the Yucatan Peninsula, home to some of Mexico’s most beautiful landscapes and rich cultures can also produce one of its strangest drinks- “aguardiente de henequen” or sisal.
Sisal is a distilled spirit similar in flavor to mezcal. The difference being it is made from heartier agave plants like the sisal plant.
This drink is predominantly found close to and in the town of Izamal in the lush region near Cancun in the Yucatan.
If you’re travelling to the border states, you may want to try Sotol.
Sotol is made from flower stalked plants called Desert Spoon that can take up to 15 years for each plant before they are ready to yield their only bottle.
But depending on how long they are fertilized there is more than one type of sotol. Sotol can only be produced in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango so you’ll have to visit those northern states before trying it.
Pulque, or sometimes called “agua de las verdes matas”, is an interesting Mexican alcoholic drink that tastes sort of like Worcestershire sauce with some sourness.
It’s made from fermented maguey plants and has been traditionally consumed by the people in Mexico since at least 700 AD without any negative health effects being documented. However due to its lower adoption rates than tequila or beer and generally the consistency, I am not a fan at all.
I just can’t get past the texture which I have to say is similar to “mucus” or something nasty from your nose.
Raicilla is a delightful, versatile spirit that can be sipped on the rocks or used as an ingredient in recipes. It’s fermented (of course, Mexicans ferment everything right?) from the mashed up stem of the maguey plant.
It’s also known to have medicinal properties and it has been said that tequila originated from raicilla.
Xtabentún is a Mexican alcoholic drink that goes great with coffee. It’s made of anise seeds and honey mixed together in rum, so you can either have it straight or ice cold! And if you want a morning drink that will make you happy, mix a shot in a cup of coffee at home.
Rompope is not actually an alcoholic liquor, but it sure tastes like one. Rompope is basically like American egg-nog. It’s got egg, milk and vanilla. You can definitely add some alcohol if you want to notch the flavor up a bit.
Whatever your preference you can get this delicious nectar flavoured with different nuts or without. Rompope is one of my favorites and if you get the chance, try rompope ice cream which is amazing too.
Pronounced “posh”, pox is a ceremonial mexican drink with alcohol favored by people in Chiapas, especially those living near San Cristóbal. It’s made of sugar cane, corn and wheat. It still maintains ritual significance and importance to Mayan communities who make it an integral part of their culture. It’s easy to find in Mexico’s small towns or rural areas.
So what do you think? Will you be trying any of these drinks next time in Mexico?