After learning a recipe from a Chamula native in 2010, De La Cruz set out to rescue the tradition of making pox entirely from corn, which yields a taste that he describes as the flavor of smoked corn tortilla. “We use organic corn, which imparts a little sweet finish at the end,” he says. “First you feel the power of pox—it’s a powerful drink with strong personality—but at the end you have a little taste of sweetness.”
Posheria Merida produces two versions of the house brand, Pox Bankilal (“bankilal” means older brother or protector in Tzotzil): a single distillation black label bottled at 53 percent ABV and a double-distilled white label bottled at 39 percent. The black label more closely resembles the traditional drink consumed at festivals and ceremonies, which Hernández says can reach a breathtaking 70 percent ABV.
While the white label is great for mixing into cocktails, De La Cruz suggests drinking the black label straight, tempering its fiery wallop with a slice of orange dusted with ground coffee, alternating bites and sips as one does with mezcal. Others pair their neat pox with coffee-dusted jicama. “It’s not for young people,” De La Cruz warns. “You only need one to feel very good. The effect is to feel very awake, but also very calm.”