Xtabentún Liqueur

I have always enjoyed a glass of Xtabentún, after dinner.  It’s smooth, with a honey and anise flavor.

Xtabentún liquor is traditionally produced in the state of Yucatán.  This liquor is from the Maya culture and has multiple uses, although, I have only tasted it, either on the rocks, or straight up with a water chaser.  The word Xtabentún comes from the Maya and means “that weed that grows in the stone” or “vines growing on stone”.  It has also been mixed with another plant called floripondio which produced a psychotropic effect for the Maya priests to enter a trance and contact the gods.

Legend has it that the flower owes its name to a woman named Xtabay.  She was the most beautiful woman in town and had several love affairs with young Maya warriors.  She also had a big heart and gave support to all who were in need, be it food or shelter, not only to people but to animals as well.  Despite this, she was despised by the town for her love affairs. When she was suddenly not seen locally, the townspeople thought she’d run away with a boyfriend to another town.  As the days passed, a very soft and rich aroma came from her house.  The townspeople went to her home and found her dead on the floor, with the town’s animals protecting her body.  Neighbors made a stone tomb for her and the white flowers grew out of the stone, hence the origin of the name.  Xtabay had a sister, Utz-Colel, but that’s another story.  There are variations of this legend, but I liked this one the best.

Xtabentún was originally made from pure bee honey fed from the pollen of the xtabentún flowers with tree bark and corn added.  This gave the liquor a mild flavor that helped with digestion.  When the Spanish conquistadores tried the liquor, they added anise and took away the tree bark and corn.

Today, Xtabentún is made with pure bee honey extracted from the pollen of the xtabentún flower, anise and rum.  Because of the rum addition, it is sometimes called a “distilled honey” beverage.  This is not correct because the honey alcohol is fermented, not distilled.

Be adventurous and give it a taste.  If you like Ouzo or Sambuca, the tastes are a bit similar as are other anise flavored liquors.   You can  purchase Xtabentún locally in Akumal and in the state of Yucatán.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Shirley,
    I just now read your Xtabentum story to Pablo. He appreciated hearing it and agreed with your version. He has a few other stories–one about the sister. Anyhoo, you would enjoy talking with Pablo sometime………Mary

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