Mexican tepache adds a lot behind the bar.

Bartenders are using tepache, a rustic Mexican street beverage made from fermented pineapple and spice, to add depth to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks alike.

“Fermented cocktails and ingredients are on the rise with 63 percent of Kimpton bartenders planning to use fermented ingredients in their bar menu,” says Mike Ryan, director of bars at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “In 2019, we’re expecting the incorporation of more gut-friendly, fermented and probiotic-rich ingredients in both dishes and drinks, like tepache.”

At Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon, bartender Brandon Lockman serves up a Pineapple Spice & Everything Nice cocktail that is tied to the restaurant’s overall waste reduction effort. He makes a tepache by using the pineapple trimmings and other fruit peels and scraps from the kitchen with an unrefined brown sugar called piloncillo, and spices like cinnamon and clove. The pineapple’s natural yeast ferments the concoction, creating a sweetly spiced, low-ABV brew that he then adds to tequila, genever, lemon, and spiced demerara syrup.

Likewise, Maggie Morgan at Manolito in New Orleans serves up a Todo Bien cocktail made with a pineapple tepache, mezcal, and a housemade cordial created from the scraps of serrano and bell peppers, as well as strawberry tops.

At Pennyroyal in Seattle, bartender Travis Sanders makes his tepache by soaking pineapple peels with sugar, water, cinnamon sticks and cloves for two days, then filtering through a cheesecloth. To make his Sol de Sonora featuring tepache, he then muddles fresh mint in a shaker tin and adds mezcal, agave, lime juice, and tepache. After a good shake, he’ll serve it on the rocks with a garnish of mint and pineapple leaves.  

For his Bodak Yellow at Dirty Habit in Washington, D.C., beverage manager Drew Hairston prepares a mango and pineapple tepache from peels, water, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon for a mild natural fizz and tart flavor that he then pairs with an earthy mezcal and sotol.

“The soft roundness of the pineapple plays well with a whole host of flavors and textures,” Ryan of Kimpton says. Bartenders can play with the spice blend and amount of sugar involved to ferment different versions in house like kombucha.

And, of course, the possibilities don’t end behind the bar. Chefs like Taylor Neary at Restaurant Holmes in Alpharetta, Georgia are using tepache in the kitchen, too, like in Neary’s Tepache Glazed Shishito Peppers and Bone Marrow Toast small plate.

Beverage, Feature