Mexican Independence Day, celebrated on September 16th, is a hugely important national holiday in Mexico that commemorates the start of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. Like any major holiday, food and drink play a central role in the celebrations. When it comes to beverages, Mexicans enjoy a range of patriotic drinks on their Independence Day, from traditional options like tequila and pulque to more modern favorites like beer and soda. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the most popular Mexican Independence Day drink options and traditions surrounding them.
One of the most iconic Mexican spirits, tequila is a hugely popular choice for celebrating Independence Day. Made from the blue agave plant and primarily produced in the state of Jalisco, tequila has a long history in Mexico dating back to the 16th century. It’s a strong, distinctive liquor that carries a sense of national pride for Mexicans. It makes sense that tequila is embraced as the national drink of Mexico and is so ubiquitous on their Independence Day.
Tequila is traditionally consumed straight in a special tequila glass called a caballito, often alongside sangrita (a spicy, tomato-based chaser). It’s also commonly used in festive cocktails like the patriotic Paloma, made with grapefruit soda. Wherever it’s enjoyed, tequila provides a strong taste of Mexican culture and identity. According to a 2020 study, Mexico consumes over 255 million liters of tequila per year, with their national holiday providing a peak time for tequila drinking and celebrating.
While not as widely known globally as tequila, pulque claims an equally important role in Mexican heritage. This ancient fermented drink was first made by the Aztecs from the maguey plant. With origins dating back over 1000 years, it’s considered Mexico’s original native spirit. Pulque has a mildly sweet, tangy taste and viscous consistency. It’s making a resurgence in Mexico, especially among young people rediscovering their cultural roots.
Independence Day is a popular time to drink pulque and connect with Mexican history. It’s commonly enjoyed straight from the barrel in pulquerias (traditional pulque taverns). Pulque has about the same alcohol content as beer, making it easy to drink in quantity during the long Independence Day fiestas. Some modern bars put a contemporary spin on pulque by offering it in cocktails like Pulquitos prepared with fruit juices and spices.
Beer is hugely popular in Mexico, with brands like Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, Victoria, and Dos Equis Crisis among the most consumed. Mexico is actually the world’s largest exporter of beer, with over 20 billion liters brewed in the country each year. Much like American barbecue and beer, the Mexican custom is to enjoy local brews alongside grilled meats, spicy salsas, and other Independence Day foods.
Many Mexicans proudly drink domestic brands specifically on their national holiday as a sign of patriotism. Beer also serves as a more accessible, affordable option compared to tequila and other spirits. Families enjoy beer together over the Independence Day meal, while friends crack open a cold one at street parties and festivals. Corona and Modelo Especial seem to be the most popular choices, ideal for celebrating with their light, refreshing profiles.
While alcohol consumption is definitely a big part of the holiday, non-alcoholic drinks also see plenty of consumption on Mexican Independence Day.
Aguas frescas like horchata (cinnamon rice water), tamarind, and jamaica (hibiscus) provide tasty non-boozy options. They’re commonly served at festivals, parties, and street food stands to help provide hydration in the September heat.
Jarritos Mexican soda offers fun patriotic flavors like Tamarind, Mandarin, and Fruit Punch to quench your thirst and celebrate the day. Kids also enjoy/@mdojarritos while the adults drink booze.
At large celebrations, you’ll find carts doling out cups of shaved ice (raspados) in festive flavors like tamarind, mango, lime, and chili powder.
Bottled water may seem boring, but it’s an essential beverage for staying hydrated in the Mexican heat while you’re partying all day long. Bonafont and Ciel are two of the most popular water brands.
So while the boozy drinks capture most of the attention, having non-alcoholic choices on hand is key for Mexican Independence Day beverage needs.
Along with tequila, wine made from the agave plant also makes an appearance at Independence Day fiestas. Traditional agave wine (also called vino mezcal) has been made in Mexico since colonial times. It offers light floral and fruity notes along with agave’s signature earthy flavor. Paired with spicy Mexican foods, agave wine provides a refreshing contrast.
More recently, a new style of agave wine has emerged in Baja California, Mexico. These agave table wines are produced more like a white grape wine, fermented from the juice of the agave stalks and leaves rather than the piña (heart). This yields a drier, fruit-forward wine often described as a cross between tequila and Sauvignon Blanc. It provides a light, palate-cleansing experience.
Agave wine, both traditional and modern table wine versions, give Mexicans a unique way to toast their independence using one of their native plants. It also appeals to wine lovers wanting a patriotic homegrown option.
Champurrado (Mexican Hot Chocolate)
While maybe not technically a “drink” in liquid form, no list of Mexican Independence Day beverages would be complete without mentioning champurrado. This thick, steamy chocolate drink is a beloved part of the holiday morning celebration. Made from corn masa, milk, chocolate, cinnamon, and sometimes vanilla, champurrado resembles a spicy hot chocolate.
In the morning hours before the big parade and fiestas, families gather together to sip champurrado and eat pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread). It provides comforting warmth and energy to start the day. The drink has Aztec origins used in religious ceremonies, but quickly became a part of everyday culture. Champurrado is now associated with Mexican tradition and family.
Can’t decide between beer or a Bloody Mary-style cocktail? Why not enjoy both at once in the form of a Michelada! This popular Mexican beer cocktail mixes lager with lime juice, salted rim, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and other savory ingredients. It’s sometimes referred to as a “Mexican Bloody Mary”.
Micheladas provide the perfect thirst-quenching, hangover-fighting drink to start Independence Day. The layered flavors contrast beautifully with barbacoa tacos, chilaquiles, and other traditional Mexican brunch foods. They’re often served with shrimp or a whole grilled jalapeño garnish.
Some popular Mexican Independence Day michelada ingredients include:
– Modelo, Pacifico or Victoria beer
– Fresh-squeezed lime juice
– Maggi seasoning
– Valentina or Cholula hot sauce
– Celery salt or Tajin for the rim
– Tomato or Clamato juice
– Worcestershire sauce
– Garnishes like shrimp, cucumber, jalapeño
This savory-meets-refreshing brew gives an authentic local flavor to Independence Day beverage choices.
Cafe de Olla
Cafe de olla is a beloved traditional Mexican coffee drink with cinnamon and piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar). It provides a sweet, spicy, rich coffee experience, typically served in an earthenware mug. On Independence Day morning, locals often opt for a comforting cup of cafe de olla over regular coffee.
The cinnamon in cafe de olla comes from Mexican Ceylon cinnamon, also called “canela”. It has a distinctly warm, almost chocolaty flavor. Piloncillo softens coffee’s bitterness and contributes a deep molasses-like sweetness. Cafe de olla wakes you up while keeping holiday mornings cozy.
This iconic coffee drink has Aztec origins but is still popular today, especially alongside pan dulce pastries. Sipping cafe de olla on the morning of Independence Day helps connect with Mexico’s past while gearing up for a day of national pride and celebration.
Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea or Agua)
In Mexico, jamaica refers to a tart, ruby-red drink made from the dried hibiscus flower. It can be enjoyed hot as a tea or chilled as agua fresca. Jamaica has a pleasing sour flavor similar to cranberry juice. It offers an earthy, subtly floral experience.
This vibrant beverage is a staple throughout Mexico, but particularly refreshing to drink on their national holiday when temperatures rise. The tangy liquid helps cool down while providing hydration. Jamaica agua fresca provides a nice non-alcoholic option for those abstaining or taking a break from boozing. Kids also enjoy the bright, fruity drink.
Saludos (or cheers) with a glass of jamaica on Independence Day!
Ponche (Fruit Punch)
No Mexican celebration would be complete without ponche on the menu. This warm, spiced fruit punch is a classic holiday beverage. While ponche is especially popular at Christmas time, it also makes an appearance for Independence Day. Recipes vary, but common ingredients include sugar cane, cinnamon, guava, oranges, tejocotes (Mexican hawthorn), sugarcane, and seasonal fruits.
Adults might spike ponche with rum or tequila for an extra festive sip. The sweet fruity drink is often ladled from large cauldrons into little clay cups. Street vendors sell steaming ponche throughout Independence Day events. Sipping this vibrant punch instantly evokes the nostalgic flavors of a Mexican holiday.
Mexican Soft Drinks
While Coke is drank throughout Mexico, they also boast a diverse range of homegrown soft drink brands. Local sodas like Jarritos, Sidral Mundet, and Sangria Senorial add Mexican flavor to Independence Day. Fresh fruit flavors like tamarind, guava, mango and lime quench your thirst with delicious sabor (flavor).
Mexicans take pride in their domestic soda options. Locals look for traditional glass bottle sodas rather than plastic versions imported from the US. The sodas also have pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup, which impacts the taste.
Fun flavors like Jarritos’ strawberry, pineapple and mandarin spark excitement compared to common American cola drinks. Enjoying Mexican sodas on Independence Day connects revelers with authentic local culture.
Mexican Independence day features a truly festive array of traditional drinks. While tequila often steals the show, classic options like pulque, agave wine, jamaica, and champurrado help tell the story of Mexico’s rich culture and history. Local beers, sodas, micheladas and ponche add to the celebratory experience. The diversity of beverages speaks to Mexico’s complex identity.
Regardless of what fills the glass, Mexican Independence Day beverages bring loved ones together to honor thebirth of their nation over food, drink, music, and pride. Salud!
|Tequila||Spirit||Strong, distincitive flavor. Traditionally consumed straight.||National liquor of Mexico since 1600s. Made from blue agave.|
|Pulque||Fermented Beverage||Mildy sweet, tangy, viscous.||Ancient Aztec fermented drink from maguey plant.|
|Mexican beer||Beer||Light, refreshing lagers like Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, Victoria.||Mexico is largest exporter of beer. Brands inspire national pride.|
|Aguas frescas||Non-alcoholic||Sweet, fruit flavors like tamarind, jamaica, horchata.||Provide non-alcoholic hydration.|
|Jarritos sodas||Non-alcoholic||Fruity sodas with real cane sugar.||Popular Mexican brand since 1950s.|
|Michelada||Beer cocktail||Savory, spicy, lime flavor.||Mexican twist on beer with mix of sauces, spices and lime.|
|Cafe de Olla||Coffee||Cinnamon, sweet.||Traditional Mexican cinnamon coffee.|
|Jamaica||Tea or agua fresca||Tart, slightly floral hibiscus flavor.||Dried hibiscus flower tea. Provides hydration.|
|Ponche||Fruit punch||Warm spiced fruit drink.||Classic Mexican holiday punch.|