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Cantina owner says he’s recovered the long-lost local flavor of Pino Negra

Cantina owner hopes his new product is childhood in a bottle for customers

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The old Sidra Pino store will reopen Saturday, offering a taste of childhood for many locals. Photo: Google

Merida, Yucatan — A local soft-drink brand that disappeared years ago is back, sort of.

The original recipe of Pino Negra was tightly guarded. José Luis Albornoz Lavadores kept the formula secret, and took it to his grave.

But after more than a year of trial and error, Pino Negra has been replicated and is being sold in bottles at El Cardenal Cantina.

And between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, cases of the lightly carbonated beverage will be sold in a long-shuttered Sidra Pino (Cedar Pine) store a block away.

Its historic bottling plant, where the roof caved two years ago, was across the street.

Pino Negra was flavored with bananas and vanilla, an aroma that used to fill the Santiago neighborhood until it ceased production during a bitter labor strike.

Meridanos who remember Sidra Pino remain nostalgic about the local brand. Soldado de Chocolate, or Chocolate Soldier, was another favorite.

Local TV reporters, who possibly remember Negra from childhood, have been featuring Said Farah Ceh, who owns the cantina and bought the Sida Pino shop. He led the project to bring back Negra, as it is now known because “Sidra” is still trademarked.

“The product is manufactured exclusively for us, with our labeling, and is bottled by Cervecería Ceiba,” commented Farah Ceh.

Production is small for now, but will ramp up when demand increases, he said. He plans to offer bottles of Negra in restaurants.

“We are aware that beyond selling a soda, we sell childhood,” said Farah Ceh.

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