Although we don’t buy souvenirs on every trip, this time we felt moved to acquire mementos of the Yucatán – notably those that would evoke its fascinating Maya culture. Conversations with locals led us to crafted goods unique to the region. These are the three we brought home.
Likened to Drambuie, pastis or ouzo, xtabentún (pronounced ish-ta-ben-toon) is a traditional yellow-green spirit sometimes referred to as “liquor of the Maya.” This liqueur is an amalgam of rum, anise seed and fermented honey made from the xtabentún flower. The conquistadors who created it apparently drew inspiration from balché, a ceremonial drink produced by the Maya that was composed of balché tree bark, honey and cinnamon. Disliking the bitterness of the beverage, the Spaniards omitted the bark and added anise. We like to drink xtabentún, with its distinctive note of sweet honeysuckle, neat or on the rocks, but locals add it to their coffee, and bars often mix it with tequila and lime juice. The largest producer of this spirit is the Casa D’Aristi located in Mérida. Open since 1935, the facility offers fascinating tours that give insight into ancient Maya rituals.
160 Calle 41, Colonia Xmatkuil, Mérida. (52) 999-943-0218