Once the hot, dry breath of summer settles oversouthern New Mexico with seemingly no result in sight, my cadre of tolerable beverages constricts to solely the ones that quench. Enter De La Calle tepache, the bright and refreshing canned undertake a historical fermented drink you will discover on wheeled carts at street markets or bubbling away beneath the sink in home kitchens across Mexico.
I gazed at the cactus-dotted expanse of my desert backyard beneath a punishing sun when i cracked a condensation-beaded can of pineapple spice among the original five flavors Los Angeles-based De La Calle debuted with this past year. Thezero-proof drink was tart and lightly fizzy, with gentle warmth from cinnamon, ginger and black pepper. Unlike the large number of sodas and fruity ready-to-drink beverages out there, De La Callie’s delicate sweetness didn’t linger rendering it an excellent, understated base for a go oftequila or mezcal, if the occasion arise to show it dirty, I thought innocently.
De La Calle’s flagship flavor also proved a fitting entrypoint to tepache itself, that is traditionally created by fermenting pineapple peels and cores for a couple days with unrefined brown sugar and spices. This pre-Columbian beverage purportedly originated on the list of Nahua folks of central Mexico or the Mayans of the Yucatan. The name, which is due to the Nahuatl word “tepiatl,” is really a conjunction of “corn” and “tender water,” discussing the drink’s corn base. After Spanish colonizers introduced fruits like pineapple, the spiny tropical fruits became the most well-liked base for tepache. (You’ll still find fermented corn drinks around Mexico, colloquially referred to as tejuino.)
For Rafael Martin del Campo, who co-founded De La Calle with CEO Alex Matthews, tepache conjures clay jars lining the fruit carts at street festivals and celebrations in his native Quertaro, Mexico. But primarily it requires him to his childhood home kitchen, where he’d often watch his grandmother make tepache, fine-tuned to consonance with cinnamon and black pepper.
Primarily it requires him to his childhood home kitchen, where he’d often watch his grandmother make tepache, fine-tuned to consonance with cinnamon and black pepper.
“I recall coming to your kitchen and smelling fruit, and I’d eat pineapple while she was making tepache,” says del Campo. “She learned to create it from her grandmother; it’s something that’s passed on from generation to generation.”
Del Campo continued to review fermentation in a food sciences and technology program in college and worked in research and development for kombucha brand KeVita, while in the home he continued evolving his generational tepache recipe with new additions like star anise and ginger. A pal introduced him to Matthews, a business owner who’d co-founded beverage brands Vina and Juice Served Here and had fallen deeply in love with tepache on trips to Mexico City.
“He asked me easily knew what tepache was,” del Campo says. “I’m like, ‘I get this to at home in my own kitchen!’ I made a batch that same weekend, brought it set for him to taste another week and he said, ‘wow, that is amazing! Why does it not exist on the market?'”
Del Campo and Matthews spent roughly per yeartraveling around Mexico getting inspired by regional Mexican ingredients and seasonal flavors, while del Campo workshopped and scaled his recipes. The lineup of now nine flavors in cheerful, candy-colored cans includes mango chili, tamarind citrus, orange turmeric, ginger manzana, cactus prickly pear and watermelon jalapeo. An activity during production extracts the alcohol that naturally occurs within the fermentation process, abandoning lactic acid. (I cannot help but quip to Del Campo that certain of the very best Google searches linked to tepache is, “Can tepache allow you to get drunk?”)
Since launching in January 2021, the business has expanded at an instant clip from its L.A. homebase, securing $7 million in funding and achieving distribution in a few 30 states in a matter of over per year.
I cannot help but quip to Del Campo that certain of the very best Google searches linked to tepache is, “Can tepache allow you to get drunk?”
“We’re expanding once we talk,” Del Campo says, referencing a national rollout entirely Foods and throughout California Target stores, both which happen in September. He thinks the drink’s relative healthfulness lower in calories, probiotic and antioxidant-rich includes a lot related to its appeal. Not forgetting the easy calculation of its plain likability something our Mexican neighbors have known for years and years.
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“Everybody in Mexico already is aware of tepache it’s so popular, there is a pop culture song called ‘Pina & Fresa,'” he said. “Here we’re educating the overall population, and I believe it’s going well. Consider of kombucha nobody knew what it had been not that way back when. But whether it’s something people like then it will likely be accepted by the masses.”
For me, my current favorite is tamarind citrus. Inspired by its namesake fruit pod which you’ll want to find on the beaches of southern Mexico mixed to a paste with sugar and chiles the canned iteration is tangy and salty-sweet. Perfect on a searing afternoon, corregido con un chupito de tequila, if the occasion arise, needless to say.