It's wild, rustic and totally addictive, at least for me--you might hate it. The base is tepache, which is pineapple home brew. You ferment pineapple shells with piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves and water until the mixture gets bubbly and fragrant, then strain and pour it over ice.
Checking a few recipes--there are many variations--I set to work, hoping to copy it. Some add barley to the fermentation. Some add beer when the drink is finished, which I think is a great idea. But I stuck with basic tepache and let the components ferment for four days.
My tepache didn't taste like La Guadalupana's (above). It was stronger and somewhat funky. That's how I got the idea to blend it into a cocktail. I put in rum, orange liqueur and a dash of Mexican lime juice, which tamed the funkiness to a pleasant background note akin to the smokiness of mezcal.
One last touch made it perfect--a slice of hot green chile that made it edgy and peppy. Sipping this transported me miles away to Tlaquepaque where, according to the famous song "Guadalajara," they make terrific tepache to go with birria. "Hacen mas fresco el dulce tepache junto a la birria con el mariachi," is what the song says.
Keep in mind that the following tepache is only a first attempt. A line of tiny bubbles runs along the top, but it is not seriously alcoholic.
You could make the cocktail with tepache from a restaurant, but it would lack the punchy taste of my home brew. Mine makes me think I'm in some far off, sun-baked pueblo, cooling off with tepache straight from the clay olla where it fermented.
COCTEL DE TEPACHE
4 ounces (1/2 cup) tepache
1 ounce light rum
1 ounce Mandarine Napoleon liqueur or other orange-flavored liqueur
Juice of 1/2 small Mexican lime
1 slice serrano chile
Combine the tepache, rum, liqueur and lime juice in a cocktail glass. Add ice cubes. Float the chile slice on top.
Makes 1 serving.
Fermented Pineapple Drink
1/4 pound piloncillo or brown sugar
6 cups water
1 (3-inch) piece cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves, crushed
Shells from 1/2 medium pineapple
Additional brown sugar as needed, about 1/2 cup
Combine the piloncillo with 1 cup water and stir until dissolved. If the sugar is very hard, heat the mixture in the microwave and let stand until the piloncillo dissolves. Place the mixture in a deep glass bowl or a non-reactive Dutch oven. Add the remaining water, the cinnamon stick and cloves.
Cut a pineapple in quarters. Remove the fruit pulp and save for another use. Wash the peel from half of the pineapple, then cut it into strips and add to the piloncillo mixture. Cover with a porous cloth and let stand at room temperature until foamy and fermented, about 4 days.
Taste and stir in additional brown sugar to taste (brown sugar will dissolve more easily than piloncillo). The drink should not be too sweet. Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then place in a pitcher or other drink container and refrigerate. Serve over ice.
Makes 6 cups.
Restaurante La Guadalupana, 1422 1/2 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90017 (213) 483-2973.