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Drinking in Local History at La Pasita in Puebla

La Pasita sells its hand-crafted liqueurs by the glass or the bottle.La Pasita is the oldest cantina in Puebla—and, although it specializes in Mexican liquors, you won’t find the usual shots of tequila or mezcal on the menu. Instead, barkeeps pour locally made libations, such as the house’s namesake pasita, a sweet raisin liqueur that’s served with a cube of salty aged cheese and a shriveled grape on a toothpick in the glass. Other flavors include lime, pineapple, coconut, anise, almond, eggnog, and the more exotic blackberry with jamaica flower and quince with apricot. Each caballito goes for 25 pesos (about $2).

Pasita liqueur is served in a shot glass with a cube of cheese and a raisin.La Pasita opened in 1916 as a small grocery called El Gallo de Oro in the downtown area still known as Barrio de los Sapos. It was purchased 44 years later by Emilio Contreras Aycan, who sought to preserve its hand-crafted liquors. In 1960, Contreras converted the establishment into liquor store and bar, and a year later, trademarked its signature raisin-based liqueur, la pasita. Today, all of its liqueurs continue to be distilled in the same way they were at the beginning of the 20th century. The business is now run by his son, Emilio, who plans to pass La Pasita and its traditions on to future generations, starMedia’s Vive México says.

Over the years, the popular hole in the wall has been visited by artists, students, political figures, and tourists from all over Mexico and the world. More than 20 different drinks are available, divided into three categories (beginner, intermediate, and professional) based on the level of alcohol they contain. Patrons can work their way up the chain from the somewhat harmless la monjita (little nun) to the rather ominous sounding sangre de brujas (witches’ blood). As these names and the bar’s signage and retro-cool decor suggest, the owners have a wicked sense of humor.

Legend has it that La Pasita became famous for serving drinks according to the number of blocks that a patron could walk without falling down after consuming them.

The basic bar menu at La Pasita. Shots of all flavors go for 20 pesos each.According to local news site Poblanerias.com, the bar’s regulars know their limits and often order their drinks that way: “a block and a half,” “five blocks,” etc. Vive México adds that anyone who can handle 20 shots a chance to pummel an effigy of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas. Anyone who does 100 shots without passing out drinks for free, wins 100,000 pesos plus the cost of their funeral. Only one person has ever done so; the runner-up, at 98 shots, was hospitalized (and had to pay his bar bill).

Since then, the Los Sapos plaza directly in front of La Pasita has evolved into a popular antiques bazaar by day and a nightclub area by night. The Puebla City Council has reportedly considered the possibility of closing the bar—which now has a second location—but due to the site’s history and value as a tourist destination, it decided to leave it be. Let’s all drink to that. ¡Salud!

The original La Pasita, located at 5 Oriente #602 at the corner of Callejón de los Sapos, usually opens from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Its second bar, a block from the Cathedral at 3 Sur #504, serves drinks from 2 to 9 p.m. weekdays. (Both are in the city’s historic center.)

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11 Responses to “Drinking in Local History at La Pasita in Puebla”

  1. Bob Cox says:

    Not being a frequent visitor to bars, I’m not so sure about it being the oldest bar but it isan interesting place. In the last century bars prohibited the entrance to women (how sexist) and they had shallow trough urinals that ran the length of the bar under the patrons feet so ( …the beer went in and the beer went out , with the modernization of the health department this unsanitary situation came to an end, however researching the outer provinces there is a possibility that there may still exist these legendary dens of iniquity).

  2. admin says:

    Hi Bob! Thanks for your comments. I’d say that the atmosphere in some bars in Mexico today is still not hospitable to women, particularly those traveling alone. However, the folks at La Pasita have always been very welcoming to me. And, according to tourism officials, La Pasita is the oldest bar (or cantina) in Puebla. See this press release (in Spanish): http://www.visitmexico.com.mx/wb/pressmx/pres_puebla.

  3. […] :: Drinking in Local History at La Pasita in Puebla :: All About Puebla :: Mexico […]

  4. Wayne Havens says:

    I finally visited this bar during my latest trip to Puebla. I had been wanting to go, but time always seems to get away. I made it this time about 4 weeks ago. It is a very small place, but the staff is very friendly.

  5. Sean I. says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    I had some of the Pasita the other day with a friend of mine and it’s down right delicious. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it in the states anywhere. Do you know if they import to the states, at all? Would love to contact you to see how we could arrange an export / import of some of the pasita. Feel free to contact me at the e-mail provided, or on linked in.

    All the best,

  6. Rebecca says:

    Hi Sean,

    It is delicious, isn’t it?! As far as I know, the family-run La Pasita does not have an export license, so the only way to get pasita to the States is to purchase bottles at the bar and carry them back with you on the plane. U.S. Customs allows up to 1 liter of alcohol per person for personal use, and anything beyond that (such as a case) is subject to federal excise tax. The U.S. Postal Service prohibits sending alcoholic beverages through the mail.

    That said, the next time I’m there (perhaps this week), I will inquire and let you know if I’m mistaken about the export license.


  7. Sean I. says:

    Thanks Rebecca, and anxiously awaiting word :) BTW, thanks for the great articles.

  8. Carlos says:

    Hello Rebecca, I have heard this liquor is delicious and I’d like to try it out. However, I don’t have any plans to travel to Puebla anytime soon, so, my question is, do you know if their product is sold in any other state/city in Mexico? I live in San Luis Potosi, hopefully I could find it in any liquor store here.


  9. Rebecca says:

    Hi Carlos! To answer your question and Sean’s, the original pasita is only sold locally on the premises. However, there are other local brands, such as El Reliac, which are sold elsewhere around town (and quite possibly other parts of Mexico). I’d offer you a link, but I cannot find any trace of them online. Thank you for reading All About Puebla.

  10. Michel says:

    My girlfriend and I live in Puebla, we go to Pasita every 2 weeks or so, it’s delicious, no… it’s not sold ANYWHERE else in the world; just in their bars (in front of Los Sapos and in 3 Sur). I really love this drink and if you come to Pasita once, please try the “Amortizado de Naranja” another drink they also prepare. Sangre de Bruja and Sangre de Artista are very good as well.

  11. Michelle says:

    Hi Rebecca. Thank you for the post. I just came back from a quick trip to Puebla & I have to say I wish I had seen much more of it. Downtown is so beautiful & relaxed.
    I knew the queue at La Pasita was a good sign but felt nervous because I’m not a connoisseur when it comes to alcohol. Regardless of that, I sat down, ordered an eggnog & almond liquor, then I soaked in the cozy ambiance. I was impressed by how quickly our drinks were served regardless of the big crowd. I took a sip & was shocked once again… I honestly wanted to drink my liquor as a shot haha. Needless to say, I enjoyed every single sip of them! Too bad it’s not sold anywhere else, I should’ve bought a bottle & some eggnog haha.
    Have a nice day everyone!