When a country wins World’s Leading Culinary Destination you take notice. When Peru won World’s Leading Culinary Destination four years in a row from 2012 through 2015, you know it’s definitely time to visit. While the focus is rightly so on the food and gastronomy, we want to put a spotlight here on 10 unique Peruvian drinks we have discovered.
1. Pisco Sour
The Pisco Sour is considered the national drink of Peru and it even has its own National Holiday. National Pisco Sour Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in February.
Pisco Sour is made of Peruvian Pisco as the base liquor with lime juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters. To make a good Pisco, it all comes down to the right proportion and the thorough mix. It is a strong drink though nice and refreshing. This is one of the Peruvian drinks you cannot miss while in Peru!
The classic Chilcano is made of Pisco with lime juice, ginger ale, ice and Angostura bitters. Other variations are made with all different kinds of exotic fruit juices like maracuya or lucuma. While the Chilcano may not be as popular as the Pisco Sour, it is a refreshing alternative and slightly lighter.
3. Chicha Morada
Chicha Morada is another one of the unique Peruvian drinks that is made from purple corn. Yes, Purple corn (Maiz Morada in Spanish). Purple corn is one of the unique corn varieties native to Peru. It has a long history and has been said to date back prior to the creation of the Inca Empire. Purple corn is is high in anthocyanins, which has many health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and several other benefits which you may read about here.
This non alcoholic beverage is made by boiling the purple corn with pineapple skin, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar.
4. Chicha de Jora
Chicha de jora is a traditional drink from the Andes that comes from the Inca Empire time period. It is beer made out of Jora corn, a type of yellow corn from the Andes. The process to make Chicha de Jora is similar to the production of regular beer.
Is tradition to spill the first portion of the beverage on the ground saying “Pachamama, santa tierra”as an offering to Mother Earth (Pachamama in Quechua). It is quite an interesting beverage that starts with slightly sweet taste and finishes with a strong sour taste, similar to a bitter apple cider. We barely finished it!
5. Chicha de Frutilla
Chicha de frutilla also known as Frutillada is a sweeter version of the Chicha de Jora. It is made with strawberries (frutilla) and sugar blended with the Chicha de Jora. It has a very weird pink color for a drink and tastes much sweeter than the Chicha de Jora. The strawberries cover the bitter taste and make it more drinkable than the Chicha de Jora.
6. Inca Kola
In countries like the U.S. it’s either Coca Cola or Pepsi. In Peru it is Inca Kola. Inca Kola is a yellow fluorescent colored soda that is super sweet and tastes like bubble gum. The origins of Inca Kola go back to 1910 where a young English couple José Robinson Lindley and his wife Martha opened a small shop in Lima, where they sold homemade carbonated beverages. In 1935 Lima was celebrating 400 year since its founding and the Lindleys decided to produce a unique drink to commemorate the event and their new homeland. Marketed as the “Pride of Peru” you see this drink everywhere.
It is the Peru’s preferred drink to complement Peruvian cuisine. Today, the Inca Kola Trademark is owned by Coca-Cola and you can find Inca Kola in many Peruvian restaurants in the U.S. as well as U.S. Latin themed stores.
7. Peruvian Beers
Although Pisco Sour is Peru’s national drink, beer is the most popular of the Peruvian drinks. Peru has three major beer brands Pilsen Callao, Cristal and Cusqueña.
Cusqueña makes several variation of beers: golden lager, red lager, wheat beer, and dark lager, a beer for every taste!
8. Mate de Coca
Famous in the Andes region, this unique Peruvian beverage is actually coca tea. It is an herbal tea made from the leaves of a coca plant. Mate de Coca is very popular and used to treat altitude sickness.
This tea is however controversial. According to Wikipedia, the leaves from the coca plant contain alkaloids, which when extracted chemically are the source for cocaine base. Though the amount in the coca alkaloids in the leaves is small, one cup of coca tea can cause a positive result on a drug test for cocaine. Needless to say coca tea is illegal in the U.S. though legal in Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador and Chile.