This summer, the hottest drink for cooling down is tepache, a fermented agua fresca made from pineapple rinds, sweetened with piloncillo (a raw Mexican cake sugar), and seasoned with spices like cinnamon. Even though it's been a favorite low-ABV cooler in Mexico since before Columbus arrived, domestic breweries have recently started making tepache beer, and there is even tepache liqueur. And now bars and restaurants are mixing their own batches, serving the refresher in a myriad of booze-spiked ways.
Location: 1600 E 6th St, Austin, TX
Bartender: Justin Elliott
Cocktail: Tepache XL ($18) with tepache and San Miguel Pale Pilsen.
To truly enjoy summer, sit on the patio with some friends while knocking back this large format libation of tepache and beer served out of porron, a traditional Spanish glass wine pitcher.
Location: 225 W 23rd Street, Baltimore, MD
Bartender: Lane Harlan
Cocktail: Copa Calavera ($12) with wild agave cupreata, tepache, house citrico (lime and lemon peel plus galangal root) and ancho bitters, lemon, ground cinnamon and pineapple feathers.
Clavel owner Lane Harlan makes her tepache strong in flavor to balance the sweetness of the piloncillo sugar she uses during the fermentation process. "A strong, funky base of tepache complements the pronounced green flavor of the wild agave cupreata [a type of mezcal]," she says.
Location: 3001 N Henderson Avenue, Dallas, TX
Bartender: Matt Ragan
Cocktail: Tomar de los Muertes ($10) with Alipus San Luis Mezcal, Tapatio Blanco Tequila, tepache, lemon and agave syrup.
Barman Matt Ragan wanted tepache to star in this drink, so instead of using a full two ounces of mezcal, which would have dominated the flavors, he split the difference with tequila. "This makes the drink all smoky mezcal and tropical pineapple on the front and that earthy, spiced tang of tequila on the finish," says Ragan.
Location: 1050 S Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Michael Lay
Cocktail: Tepache Fizz ($14) with tepache, pilconcillo, spices, citrus, tequila, genever and sherry.
Beverage director Michael Lay mixes housemade tepache—which is readily available on draft at this new Latin-flavored downtown L.A. restaurant—with tequila, genever, sherry, and citrus for a layered and rich libation.
Location: 8752 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA
Bartender: Garrett Mikell
Cocktail: Mexican Motel Room ($12) with housemade tepache, Mezcal Vida, chocolate chili bitters, creme de banana and Ancho Reyes chili liqueur.
For a refreshing summer beverage, Eveleigh's head barman Garrett Mikell mixed up this easy-drinking tepache cocktail. "The smoke of the mezcal and the fermented pineapple make for a peppy but complex punch style cocktail—a little spicy, but not overpoweringly so," says Mikell.
Location: 8905 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA
Bartender: Jason Eisner
Cocktail: Mexican Shandy ($11) with tepache, Uinta XPA and citra hops-smoked ice.
In this shandy, the sweetness and herbaceousness of the housemade tepache balances out the heavily hopped XPA. "It almost creates a beer tea, Arnold Palmer vibe," says barman Eisner who also smoked the ice with citra hops for a lingering aroma.
Location: 440 S Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim, CA
Bartender: Gilberto Marquez
Cocktail: Sinoloa Sling ($12) with Ilegal Mezcal, Cherry Heering, Damiana liqueur, tepache and lime.
Bartender Gilberto Marquez wanted to create a variation of the Singapore Sling using tepache. The fermented pineapple balances the sweetness of the Cherry Heering and herbal Damiana liqueur. The Damiana, which originates from Baja, California, not only stands in for the Benedictine in the traditional Singapore Sling recipe, but reinforces Marquez's desire to use Mexican ingredients. "If it grows together, it goes together," he says, quoting a food and wine pairing adage.
New York City
Location: 41 West 57th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Eamon Rockey
Cocktail: Tigrita ($16) with tepache, amber ale and spirit of choice.
Since Betony always makes its own oleo saccharum and juices fresh pineapples, tepache was the perfect solution for using every bit of the fruit. The restaurant combines the leftover pineapple skins and oleo-candied citrus peels with water, spices and piloncillo to make its tepache. The Tigrita is then built by mixing the tepache with the guest's spirit of choice, and topping the drink with draft beer. "Super complex, really refreshing, customizably fun and uniquely Betony," says general manager Eamon Rockey.
Location: 102 Norfolk Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Alex Valencia
Cocktail: Tepache Apache ($12) with dark rum, housemade tepache, lemon juice, demerara syrup and Angostura bitters.
This light, summery highball starts off citrusy and possesses a sweetness with spice notes of cloves and cinnamon.
Location: 371 W. 46th Street; 1626 2nd Avenue, New York, NY
Bartender: Juan Bautista
Cocktail: El Tepachito ($13) with tepache liqueur, Cointreau, fresh strawberries and pineapple muddle and lime juice.
For barman Juan Bautista, tepache was a staple at every family reunion in Oaxaca, so he wanted to make a cocktail that was close to his experiences growing up. But he added strawberries for a twist in color and texture from a traditional tepache drink.
Location: 1813 NE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR
Bartender: Jim Bonomo
Cocktail: Tepache Mimosas ($6), one with half tepache and half California sparkling wine, and a "Blend Seven" which is a tepache mimosa with a splash of passionfruit cider.
Tepache, it's what's for breakfast at Reverend Nat's. "Since Pine State Biscuits opened in our building, we've been getting a breakfast-time drinking crowd, so it seemed an appropriate application of our house-made Tepache," says bar manager Jim Bonomo. Tepache is commonly mixed with beer, but the sparkling wine's effervescence and dry nature are the perfect complement to its tropical sweetness and holiday spiciness.
Location: 155 E Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX
Bartender: Myles Worrell
Cocktail: Little River ($12) with vodka, tepache, Cocchi Americano and apricot.
Bar manager Myles Worrell didn't want vodka drinkers to feel overlooked at his cocktail-serious bar, so he created this thoughtfully complex but approachable vodka drink with a tepache liqueur. But in the place of the fermented low-ABV "pineapple beer" he uses Bittermens tepache liqueur. "The deep spice and pineapple flavors nicely complement the light, nutty and herbaceous combination of Cocchi Americano and apricot, while the Polish vodka allows them to develop and lengthen into something truly special," Worrell says.
Location: 2911 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX
Bartender: Arabella Daniels and Sam Perdue
Cocktail: La Morena ($8) with St. Germain, Hendrick's Gin, orange juice, lemon, tepache and muddled basil leaves.
This new summer specialty cocktail at vegan restaurant, La Botanica, has a refreshing subtle sweetness that works perfectly with the earthiness of the housemade tepache.
Location: 1207 S Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL
Bartender: Dean Hurst
Cocktail: The Escapist ($16) with Penderyn Single Malt, Giffard Banana Liqueur, tepache, Cocchi Americano Rosa, fresh orange juice and Bittermens Orange Citrate.
Director of spirits Dean Hurst liked the Penderyn Single Malt so much he created this tropical drink to entice people to try it. Despite the hints of orange and pineapple, the single malt's personality still shines through.
Location: 50 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ
Bartender: Bryan Eichhorst
Cocktail: Tepache and Bourbon ($9) with bourbon, tepache, velvet falernum, sweet vermouth and pineapple white wine vinegar.
The funkiness of the tepache and vinegar stand up to the bonded bourbon used in this Whiskey Sour variation.