A Special Drink Made in Cuba: Pru Oriental

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Pru Oriental - photo: cubadebate.cu

Pru Oriental is a refreshing brown-colored drink with medicinal properties. Brought to Cuba by French colonialists after the Haitian Revolution, its production began in the eastern part of the island, although today it’s sold all over the country.

Usually prepared as a homemade brew, it begins with the fermentation of several plant roots, along with chinaberry, Chinese root, pepper leaves, brown sugar, cinnamon, pine sprouts and water. There are even those people who add their own secret ingredients to give it a unique flavor.

With everything thoroughly blended, it’s poured into a container that’s well sealed so that it can begin to ferment. As for its medicinal properties, it’s an anti-oxidant that many people use to lower their high blood pressure.

If you travel in the eastern of the island and you don’t try it, you’ve miss out big time on typical yet eccentric flavor of the region.

Recently a TV journalist did a feature in which they reported on the opening of a factory making industrial Pru.

Sitting in the front room watching the news, we became alarmed at this idea. If they began producing large quantities with the aim of selling the drink, we were sure that the quality would decline. We also thought about how its distribution needed to be quick.

The fact is that sometimes when you try to open a bottle, almost all of the liquid shoots out without your being to drink hardly a drop. Even worse misfortune for the person who’s thirsty is when it explodes first.

In any case, a Chinese-Cuban neighbor who had been watching TV with us asked, “Do you know how you can control the foam of Pru when you open a bottle?”

“No,” I replied.

“All you have to do is put your palm, at normal temperature, on the bottom of the bottle and then open it. You’ll see how that controls the foam.”

“First time I’ve heard that,” I thanked him.

Jorge Milanes

Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

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5 thoughts on “A Special Drink Made in Cuba: Pru Oriental

  • You can actually slightly open the bottle and then close it as fast as you can. Next time you open once the foam goes down it won’t explode like crazy. Learned when I was a child lmao my mom’s entire kitchen was full of my Grandma’s Pru the best pru I ever had is Yara’s Pru

  • its truly something else, you are litterally a moron if you pass by without drinking it.

  • After the Pru is made, ??according to Olivares, one of the most experienced in the art, drink only lasts 72 hours under refrigeration. It would be interesting to know how they are going to maintain the quality of home brew pru with its industrialization and distribution. No wonder why it haven’t been industrialized for more than 220 years!

  • Wow Michael, can you give me an example of industrializing medicine that results in the deracination of its properties? Unless you consider homeopathic stuff medicin I think it will be hard.

    Back to the subject of Pru, I havn’t been able to find it here in Havana. If I find it, homebrewed or not, I will try it out.

  • When I tried to find some pru in Bayamo last year, all the stalls selling it, at the open air market near the railroad station, were closed, and although asking around, couldn’t find any elsewhere. Guess I didn’t look hard enough! I agree, there’s nothing like “home brew,” and “industrializing” bru, just like industrializing medicine, often results in the deracination of its curative properties.

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