For use in tascalate, the maize gets dried, toasted, and then ground into a mixable powder. Though maize-based drinks are less common in Western traditions, they’re nothing particularly unique in Mexico. Ages-old favorites such as tajate and atole offer hearty maize-based beverages that are earthy and filling, depending on how they’re served. Tascalate similarly carries a thick composition due to the maize, but its other core ingredients are equally impactful.
Cacao and achiote bring their own defining elements, including a flavor-packed mix of earthy, sweet, and bitter notes with added nutty and peppery tones. Like the maize, these two ingredients are toasted and ground before being mixed with the maize and stirred into water, sometimes using a traditional wooden molinillo whisk. Some recipes today add brown sugar or ground cinnamon, and milk can replace water when creating the drinkable liquid.
However, when serving as the base for cocktails, chilled water remains the preferred mixer for the powdered maize, cacao, and achiote. In a traditional Chiapas-style tascalate cocktail, a mezcal is the crucial alcohol component. The sometimes smoky flavor of mezcal, which comes from fire-pit roasting, adds depth and complexity to the already earthy and multi-flavored notes of the tascalate mix. It may be harder to find tascalate drinks in standard bars or coffee shops outside of Mexico, but you can make your own using achiote paste, unsweetened cocoa, a powdered corn flour such as masa harina, and any preferred sweeteners or mezcal.