The Flower of Tula

by Gaz Regan · Friday, December 28th, 2012 · Quotes

“No: the true tale of the cocktail antedates Columbus. It has to do with the Toltecs in the eleventh century. In Mexico the common drink is pulque, a poor beer made from the sap of the maguey plant. The exhilarating possibilities of this juice were discovered by a native of Tula, who was either a nobleman at the time or was ennobled for his service to the race. Finding pulque to be a good thing, from the Mexican point of taste, he sent his daughter, The Flower of Tula, to the emperor with samples. His majesty having consumed a couple of quarts of the beverage was vastly comforted, and, being in a mood to do good, he offered to let the nobleman’s daughter be one of his wives. His offer having been suddenly accepted, for royal offers of this kind are never refused, he declared that the drink was fine enough to perpetuate in its name the beauties and graces of the demoiselle who had been his Hebe, and he called it, after her, Xochitl. Moreover, he started an inebriate asylum of his own, and kept his imperial skin well filled with the mysterious juice, thus offering an example to other kings, who are frequently in debt for their cheer.

The head wife of the king, who regarded this new-comer in the harem with sharp disfavor, was reminded that she had never invented a drink, and that silence was becoming to women. In time the inheritor of the kingdom was to be declared, and the choice fell, not on the son of the older wife, but on that of Xochitl. The family disturbance that began then led to faction fighting and the final disruption and downfall of the Toltec dynasty, though the Aztecs continued the brewing industry, and they keep on making pulque and the worse mescal in Tula to this day. People in Mexico and on the edge thereof worried along with the name of Xochitl for the insidious destroyer for years and years, for they had not gumption enough even to use an easy word, unless somebody showed them how. Somebody did. It was the United States army. It went to Mexico, conquered it, found it warm work, acquired a thirst, was served with xochitl, couldn’t say it, though it could drink it, called it cocktail, and there you are.”  Myths And Legends Beyond Our Borders by Charles Montgomery Skinner, J. B. Lippincott company, 1899.

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