With good food goes good drink? If Perú has some of the most amazing food then naturally we went looking for native drinks that would accompany such cuisine. It turns out there are some interesting drinks, and one of our favorites refreshments yet.
Is every country lucky enough to have a national soda? The national cola of Perú, Inca Cola, is aptly named after the Inca people. Coca Cola owns the rights, so its a little less genuine… but then again it seems to have maintained some of its authenticity. It is served everywhere, from the finer restaurants to the jungle. The taste is difficult to describe other than Inca Cola is sweeter and brighter in color than a Mountain Dew — it was a little sweet for our taste but we don’t drink a lot of soda.
We couldn’t say Perú has the best beer in the world. The beer is mostly the pale lager type, light and clean but not exactly full-bodied or complex. They do have Malta beers, a dark variety that tends to be a little on the rich side, kind of thick and sweet. Interestingly, almost every significant city has its own beer: Cusqueña from Cusco, Arequipeña from Arequipa, Iquiteña from Iquitos, and Amazonia from the Amazon. Like Mexico with it’s Micheladas, Perú also has experimented with the beer-cocktail. We were rather pleasantly surprised one morning in the Jungle market by a oatmeal-y breakfast concoction made from beer, raw eggs, algarrobina and condensed milk. Breakfast of champions!
Then there is Chicha Morada, a real South American drink if ever there was one. It is made from a base of purple maize and fruit juice. We often had it served in a small pitcher with the menu of the day. It is refreshing and very different in flavor than expected.
A little on the sweet and cinnamon-y side while being cold and refreshing, not at all like corn on the cob. A ubiquitous beverage served the nation-over, even bottled and mass produced or available in powdered forms. Chicha Morada shouldn’t be confused with Chicha, a fermented corn drink with the alcohol content of a beer.
But our favorite, the real drink of Perú, is the Pisco Sour. Like Mexico with Margaritas, Pisco Sour is the national cocktail. It is made from Pisco, a grape liquor with a fairly strong alcohol content. Mixed with lemon juice, egg whites, sugar and a drop of bitters, this cocktail is very easy to drink. We are not cocktail swillers, preferring a good beer instead, but this actually had us switching for most of our time through Perú.
Eva had a special affinity for Maracuja Sour, a Pisco Sour with passion fruit. Pisco Sours can be made with a wide variety of juices such as ginger and orange, algarrobina (carob), but Jeremy remained a purist, staying loyal to the straight Pisco Sour.
There are many more drinks common to Peru, too many for one trip. There were drinks we either could not translate, locate or find time for, but we felt that we got off to a good start. The Pisco Sour is truly one to take home with us, and we’ll end this post with a recipe, so you can share this absurdly delicious taste with us.
Makes 1 serving.
Some Pisco Sour recipes use simple syrup instead of sugar, this one provides a quick end to making the cocktail
1/4 cup (2 oz.) Pisco
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon egg whites
In a blender, whirl 3 ice cubes, Pisco, sugar, fresh lime juice, and egg whites. Whirl until smooth, or until you’ll no longer hear the ice cracking against the side of the blender, and serve straight up in a martini glass with a dash of aromatic bitters and a wedge of lime.
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