tequila Tequila is the most famous Mexican drink, but all three of these beverages are consumed in Mexico. They are all made from the agave plant, known as maguey in Mexico.

Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1656. The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, which they called octli (later, and more popularly called pulque), long before the Spanish arrived in 1521. When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill this agave drink to produce North America's first indigenous distilled spirit.

Some 80 years later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass-producing tequila at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products.

The tequila that is popular today was first mass-produced in the early 1800s in Guadalajara, Mexico. Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884-1885, was the first to export tequila to the United States. Don Cenobio's tequilagrandson Don Francisco Javier gained international attention for insisting that "there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves!" His efforts led to the practice that real tequila can only come from the State of Jalisco.

Although some tequilas have remained as family owned brands, most well-known tequila brands are owned by large multinational corporations. However, there are over 100 distilleries making over nine hundred brands of tequila in Mexico and over 2,000 brand names have been registered (2009 Statistics). Due to this, each bottle of tequila contains a serial number (NOM) depicting which distillery the tequila was produced in. Because there are only so many distilleries, multiple brands of tequila come from the same location.




Pulque ("pool-kay"), called octli in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, is made from the sap of the agave plant. To extract the sap, a cavity is cut into the heart of an 8 to 12 year-old plant. The sap is then extracted with a fat wooden tube placed in the heart of the plant. The sap is called aguamiel (literally honey water), or agave nectar, because it is very sweet. The nectar is then fermented to make pulque. The resulting liquid is milky and slightly sour tasting. Sometimes fruit or nuts are added to change the flavor. Pulque's alcohol content, dependent on the degree of fermentation, ranges from 2 to 8%.