In a recent article, Roads and Kingdoms touts “The Rise of Raicilla,” the elixir distilled from agave grown in Mexico’s Jalisco state, whose center of production is our Yelapa. The piece chronicles raicilla’s origins as Yelapa’s local moonshine. Describing Yelapa as “an isolated beach town on Mexico’s Western coast,” the author remembers the first time he tasted raicilla “in a small cafe overlooking the Rio del Tuito in Yelapa.” He chased it with a Mexican Pepsi.
The first time I tasted raicilla I chased it with Mexican Pepsi at a small cafe overlooking the Rio del Tuito in Yelapa, an isolated beach town on Mexico’s Western coast.
The author’s description of raicilla as “smokey, and it warms your throat like whiskey” invoked fond memories of my own experiences of the same in the cafes and beach side shacks for which Yelapa is so well known. Not to mention the trail to La Cascada, where one must pass the lovely rosewood carver who offers a shot with every purchase and who will sell you a liter-sized plastic water bottle full of the stuff. Raicilla, the “local moonshine,” is an integral part of Yelapa’s culture.
And it appears that this integral part of Yelapa culture is also becoming its number one export. Distributor la Venosa Raicilla has been supplying the elixir to a handful of cocktail bars and restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. How’s this for a relaxer: grapefruit juice, lime, Campari and raicilla? Pow!
How’s this for a relaxer: grapefruit juice, lime, Campari and raicilla.
Raicilla’s history mirrors America’s moonshine tradition in some ways. The drink, known as “tequilla’s grandfather,” was banned by the Spanish. According to local lore, this sent distillers of the drink underground. In the US, the moonshine tradition lead to the creation of NASCAR, as moonshiners would rely on souped-up hot-rods in order to evade the authorities as they transported their product. Considering Yelapa’s primary mode of transportation is a burro, I wonder what the Mexican version of NASCAR would be? What would a donkey hot-rod look like?
Folks in the know like to think of Yelapa as their own special secret. Considering how this beloved pueblo has stuck to its roots and retained its character over the years, I don’t blame them. But it appears the secret is out. Yelapa’s uniqueness has earned itself a dot on the cultural RADAR and raicilla is becoming its diplomatic lubricant. Hear hear!
The Rise of Raicilla | Roads and Kingdoms