Drunken Beans

Drunken Beans

Life without Mexican food is like no life at all.

~ Anonymous ~

South Africans eating Mexican?

South Africa has it’s fair share of Mexican restaurants and we all know about tacos. My only foray into cooking Mexican however, was to make some spicy mince and serve it with grated cheese and guacamole in tortillas.  But on my first visit to the USA in 2016 I went to a Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia. The Mexican Food Addiction got hold of me. I even organised my daughter’s 16th birthday party at a small local Mexican restaurant! Then my family and I went on a 5-day trip to Cabo San Luca in 2017 (sponsored by my husband’s employer). We were hooked! The food we tried wasn’t only Tex-Mex, but more traditionally Mexican. I came home ready to try any Mexican food I could find or make myself. We were still going to our local El Pistolero regularly and there I was introduced to Drunken Beans.

You had me at Tequila

To be honest, I had a love affair with Tequila before I started making Mexican food. I love a shot of cold Tequila with salt and lemon and a frozen Margarita is one of the few cocktails I like. So a slow-cooked dish of beans and tomato with a shot of Tequila and some beer could only be good, right? A former chef of El Pistolero, Zane Figueiredo, gave me some pointers on how to make Drunken Beans. I have been working on my recipe since. Although it’s probably far from authentic, this is the taste I like and I can’t plan a Mexican menu without including my drunken beans.

Let me count the ways

Drunken Beans can be used in so many different ways. I first ate them heaped on top of nachos, covered in cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Tacos or burritos? Add a scoop of drunken beans. My favourite way of eating them is in a bowl with pulled pork, Mexican Rice and all the other Mexican trimmings! Add to that the fact that they are vegetarian and vegan, it’s a win-win situation all the way!

Drunken Beans with avo in tortilla

Drunken Beans

Slow-cooked beans and tomatoes with a shot of Tequila and Mexican beer
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people
Author: Melanie Blignaut


  • 10 10cm celery sticks
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • ½ chopped jalapeno chilli less or more according to taste
  • 15 ml oil
  • 5 ml salt
  • 2 tbsp taco spice
  • 5 ml smoked paprika
  • 1 shot Tequila (30ml)
  • 1 tin tomatoes whole or chopped
  • 3 tins pinto beans I use sugar beans or barlotti beans if I can't find pinto beans in Pretoria
  • 1 bottle Mexican beer Preferably a dark type
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (coriander)


  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  • Chop the celery, carrots and onions very finely or blitz in a food processor until very fine.
  • Fry the celery, carrots, onions, garlic and jalapeno in the oil in a Dutch Oven or a heavy-based pot with a tight-fitting lid for 3 - 5 minutes.
  • Add the taco spice, smoked paprika and salt and stir-fry until fragrant.
  • Add the shot of Tequila and stir, allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
  • Add the tomatoes, breaking up the pieces into smaller bits if you are using whole tomatoes.
  • Add the drained beans and bring the contents to a simmer.
  • Add the beer and get the mixture to a slow boil again.
  • Put the lid on the pot and cook in the oven for an hour.
  • Remove from the oven and correct the seasoning adding more salt if necessary.
  • Serve with chopped cilantro on Nachos, as a vegetarian tortilla filling or as a side dish.


  • The alcohol in the tequila and beer evaporates with cooking and just leaves a flavourful taste and won't actually make the beans or the consumers drunk!
  • The slow-cooking process gives the dish amazing, deep flavours, but if you do not have time it can be cooked on the stove-top for 20 - 30 minutes.
  • This is also a great recipe for a slow-cooker. Follow the recipe on the stove-top up to the point that you add the tomatoes. Then transfer to a pre-heated slow-cooker and continue adding the remaining ingredients.Cook for 3 hours on high, or 6 hours on low.


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