Monday, January 28, 2013

New York City: Pulqueria Restaurant & Bar

PULQUERIA (pul-que-ria  noun  \pulke'rea\),  a Mexican shop that sells "pulque", aka, "a cool ass bar/restaurant in NYC".

PULQUE (pul-que), a Mexican alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of various agave's, or in lay mans terms, "a milky tequila worth drinking".

My first experience with pulque was in NYC, my second in Mexico.

It was a temperate summer night in August when a friend hipped me to Pulqueria, a very unassuming, dark, trendy and loud underground bar/restaurant in the heart of Chinatown.  Who knew???

I discovered Pulqueria during a last minute, ill attempt, to wrangle friends to share spirits and rally around my niece, Ashley's, twenty-first birthday weekend in NYC.  Until then, it had been a full and busy couple of days, planning, hosting and entertaining Ashley in celebration of her special day. We had seen a free concert in Central Park, visited with family, trekked around SoHo, the Village and midtown, window shopped throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, taken in a rooftop bar or two, and were now ending our weekend at a small find in Chinatown.  It was within a small, narrow, alley-like street, where two men stood watch, while asking to see ID, that we found Pulqueria.  Lucky for Ashley, there was no need for the fake ID anymore.
The narrow stairway leading downward into darkness opened on the left, to a non-pretentious dance floor and bar, and to dining tables on the right.  Myself, brothers and niece got ourselves situated at the bar, ordered a few simple small dishes and enjoyed the new experience of "pulque", liquor infused fruity drinks.  It was nice.

My second encounter with pulque was in Mexico, where it originated.  This time I felt that I had the upper hand, being "in the know", now familiar with the liquor since Pulqueria.  I came across pulque at a tequila tasting outside of Mexico City.  I was with friends, when again, our day ended with sampling and drinking liquor.  We had spent the better part of our day at Teotihuacan, the centuries old ruins and Mexican pyramids, about an hours drive outside of Mexico City.  It had been a long day in the sun and we were tired, when the guided tour detoured strategically to a souvenir and artisan shop off the side of the road where we found ourselves being educated on the many uses of agave, hence tequila and pulque, before being encouraged to make purchases.  Hmmmmm.

We managed to leave the arts and crafts shop with little more than a few stone sculptures, some silver jewelry and, yes, many bottles of authentic Mexican tequila.  We carried on sampling the brands throughout the car ride back to town.  Memories were made and a good time had.  In all, I'd say it was a great day.  Part educational,..... part cultural,..... part spiritual, and a lot, festive with libation.  

Cheers to PULQUE!!!

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