You can’t visit Mexico’s Oaxaca state without drinking mezcal at some point.
The fiery liquor made of distilled agave follows you around in bars, restaurants, and even small-town grocery shops.
There are dozens of varieties regularly consumed by locals, and the fancier distilleries even organize tours that attract droves of foreigners to the region’s agave fields.
But there’s one place in Oaxaca where you will not find mezcal–or any other sort of alcohol. The Village of San Vicente Lachixio in Oaxaca’s Sierra Costera region has banned alcohol sales for the past 35 years, making it one of the rare “dry counties” in Mexico.
According to locals, drinking got so out of hand in this town in the 60’s and and 70’s that drastic measures had to be taken.
“It was like an epidemic that took over the town,” said longtime resident Clemente Molina. “You would see men, women, children of eight years of age and ten years of age drinking.”
Molina’s son owns a grocery store that sells no liquor no beer–a rarity in the region.
Older residents of San Vicente favor ongoing prohibition. But drinking is allowed in the neighboring counties of San Sebastian and Santa Maria–and everywhere else in Oaxaca, really–leading to some pretty funny situations in this village.
We visited Oaxaca´s lone “no drinking” village to see how its residents cope with the ban.