When we were kids there was no tucking in or bedtime stories — It was a different time. All we heard was – Ya vete a dormir (Go to sleep). We always brushed our teeth, put on our pajamas, and got ourselves ready for bed, with no help from our parents.
My mother worked late nights and more often than not I slept next door at my grandma’s house. I’ll never forget the first and ONLY time I asked her for a bedtime story and piojitos, a nickname for soft strokes to my hair. I was about eight years old and I was excited as I heard my grandma get off her rocking chair and walk down the hall, stepping away from her novelas (Mexican soap operas) to sit by my bedside. I was very happy as she gave me piojitos, and began to tell me the tale of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman).
La Llorona is a folklore legend in Hispanic America, with many versions but I will always remember my grandma’s version. Here is her version.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful woman who had two children with no husband. One day she met a handsome man who she wanted to be with but he wanted nothing to do with her children. In her desire to be with the man she loved she drowned her children in a canal. He was a gambler and a womanizer, and she thought he would stop all of that once he knew she no longer had children. The man was never faithful to her and eventually the beautiful woman ended up killing herself after feeling riddled with guilt about what she had done to her children.
My grandma continued to tell me that La Llorona had been spotted in the canal behind our home calling for her children. La Llorona walked in her white flowing dress at night, crying up and down the canal, calling for her drowned children. She then told me that I better not cry or La Llorona would come and get me because she had been known to kidnap children who she heard crying, mistaking them for her own children.
“Ya vete a dormir,” my grandma said after her story was over. As soon as my grandma left the room I started to cry because I was terrified of the story she told me but I was careful to cry (quietly). The wind howling outside my window sounded like cries from La Llorona, “Aaaay, mis hijos” (O-h-h-h, my children). My imagination ran wild as I watched the shadows of the branches on the tree, beckoning to me with their finger-like branches. I remember covering my head with the blankets and praying until I fell asleep.
Why our parents or grandparents scared us to death with this story, I’ll never know. It’s funny now, but I would never want to share this story with my own children at bedtime.
One day I was using dry ice in my kitchen and the white flowing smoke created by the reaction of the ice with liquid reminded me of La Llorona story. At that moment I had an idea for a cocktail. A deceptively potent cocktail. So there you have it – my crazy artistic brain and how this cocktail came to life. I hope you enjoy this drink inspired by one beautiful and scary woman.
What’s your version of La Llorona?
La Llorona Martini
- 3 ounces Pisco Brandy
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- crushed ice
- dash of Angostura bitters
- dry ice, optional (see note)
- In a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice, combine brandy, juices, and sugar. Cover, shake vigorously for 15 seconds, and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with a few drops of bitters. Add some dry ice for a spooky effect.
Written by Yvette / Photos by Jeanine