Where The Old Ways Produce The Newest Chic Drink

At 2 a.m., Eustorgio Santos Rosales sets fire to a pile of mesquite and oak logs. He watches them for several hours until the wood turns into crackling red-hot embers. Then the 76-year-old Zapotec Indian orders his sons and helpers to pile fist-size stones onto the coals. On top of the stones go 1 1/2 tons of pineapple-shaped fruit of the agave plant, chopped into chunks. Next come armfuls of damp agave plant fiber to trap the heat and moisture around the roasting fruit. Finally, the men lay a tarpaulin woven of agave fibers over the pit and cover it with a thick layer of dark dirt. By late morning, when I arrive, the sun is blazing, and the men are stretched out in the shade, eating a breakfast of tortillas and beans prepared by Eustorgio's daughter Vicenta.

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