La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)

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

Yield: Makes 1 drink

This intoxicating drink was inspired by a Halloween night when I was using dry ice in a punch bowl. The eerie trail of wispy smoke created by the dry ice looked like the long, flowing gown worn by La Llorona. La Llorona, according to ancient Mexican folklore, was a beautiful woman who drowned her children to be with a man and when he wanted nothing to do with her, she lost her mind. In the afterlife, she walks up and down bodies of water, wailing and looking for her children. It’s a conversation starter for a Halloween party, but you can skip the dry ice for a yummy drink year-round.


3 ounces Pisco Brandy
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
Crushed ice
Dash of Angostoria 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.

Note: Dry ice is quite safe to use in drinks, but you should not touch it. Wait for the ice to melt before actually drinking it as it can burn your skin.

Written by Yvette / Photos by Jeanine

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  1. It’s so crazy how carried away children get with imaginations; I love that you’ve retained that and morphed a story into a cocktail. Everything seems better with a cocktail anyway!
    Also that is a crazy amazing picture; your website inspired me to celebrate day of the dead this year, it’s roots are pretty similar to the pagan festival my ancestors would have celebrated.

  2. What a post! I love hearing about your childhood and yes, hearing yet another tale of who the weeping woman actually was. I have long loved the sad, haunting song, now I have a cocktail to go with it. Thanks for sharing all of this.

  3. What is it about being raised Latino that requires a little bit of fear mixed with tender moments?! I don’t know why this legacy continues- though I have to admit, I found myself snickering as I read this. I was told the story of La LLorona many a time to keep me from being scared at night- and surprise, surprise all it did was MAKE me scared. Oh well…I lived through it and now it takes something really out of the ordinary to scare me. I rather like the way you excercised your demons- a cocktail is a much better solution. Salud!

  4. I would llike to buy your cookbook but i dont have your address to buy one can you give me your address so i can get one please i will get a money order to send you how much is it s and handing and the cookbook

  5. I live in texas honey grove

  6. I bought mine @ and I highly recommend. These are the recipes I grew up with, really authentic in my book. I also remember staying with my grandmother in Sierra Blanca, Texas with my aunts and cousins who told us stories and dscare the daylights out of my sister and I. They told us that if we played with dolls at night that they would turn into witches and pull our legs when we slept. So consequently we had lots of sleepless nights.

  7. Don’t ask! Just don’t ask this of a N European-born child of a certain age now!!! What do you think we got when temps were raging 40-41 degrees C? Huh?? Brothers Grimm etc: death and destruction and child murder etc etc!! And my Mom WAS fond of reading Goethe and Schiller whilst I had measles and mumps and chickenpox!!!!! On the positive side: I AM here to tell the tale 🙂 !

  8. When I saw the title of this post, I got goosebumbs! I don’t recall the story we were told (may have blocked that out!) but I know that I did not want La Llorona showing up, heck no! 🙂 Thank you for the trecks down memory lane!

  9. I was born and raised in El Paso, TX and La Llorona folktale was know by everyone. We all had the experience of the tale told to us at bedtime when we were to wound up to fall asleep. I passed it on to my children, but not at bedtime, and they will probably pass it on to theirs or I will.
    Wonderful memories.

  10. Serves La Llorona right! 😀

    Love the pic.

  11. This has been featured on our Mouth Watering Mondays post at Cheers, Tara

  12. I grew up in Albuquerque, and stories of La Llorona kept me far away from ditches–a good thing when you live in an area prone to flash flooding, but a bad thing when your grandparents’ house is half a block from a ditch and you’re scared to go there!

    This cocktail looks lovely, by the way, and delicious.

  13. Just this past weekend, we were returning from the Texas Hill Country and we crossed a bridge that had a sign: “Woman Hollering Creek”. We made a joke that it was named after me, but then I looked it up. It is very similar to the story that your grandmother told.

  14. Love this recipe!! Hope to try it out on Dia de Los Muertos!! “La Llorona” has been a staple of Mexican-American parenting for YEARS!! Here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, along the river of the same name, many parents and grandparents have told that story to countless children. I always considered it the Hispanic version of “the Bogeyman”. I’ve heard a song about her, and I’ve seen a version portrayed in the TV series “Grimm”. The episode was quite faithful to the original story…it was really good! Thanks for making it known to new audiences!!

  15. I love your recipes and website. I am Mexican American, with family that were here in San Francisco since before the 1906 earthquake… I remember the La Llorona tale, but only the part about her drowning her children, then crying for them.

    I live on the San Francisco Waterfront, and on a very windy night, I think, “Ah, La Llorona is on the prowl for her children again”…

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