South America is such a culturally rich continent, home to everything from the amazon river and jungle to the Brazilian samba.
It’s no surprise that this colorful place is home to some of the best cocktails in the world.
Alcohol has played a huge role in the way South American countries have established themselves socially, economically, and culturally.
Maybe South America’s long and significant history with alcohol combined with their rich culture has shaped them as a people who love and know how to party. Regardless, they know how to make a great cocktail.
So, crack out your cocktail shakers and let’s go on a bar crawl through the twelve countries of South America, each with their own traditional recipes, conveniently from your own kitchen.
Argentina: Fernet con Coca
Fernet is a type of bitters that Argentinians love. It is often mixed with Coca Cola, hence the name Con Coca.
This drink is a bit of an icon for Argentinians, though neither coke or Fernet is originally from Argentina.
How to Make Fernet con Coca
Fernet Con Coca’s popularity in Argentina transcends social and economic status.
It’s a simple combination of Coke and Fernet, so it’s not hard at all to make but has a unique taste somewhere between licorice, bitters, and vanilla.
Singani is a wine brandy made of distilled wine. It is the liquor of Bolivia and is the alcohol used in Chuflay. You really can’t get away with making a Chuflay with any other liquor.
Chuflay came about during the construction of Bolivia’s railway lines. The English who were working on the lines liked to drink gin and ginger ale. The gin was hard to come by in Bolivia, so they started using Singani instead.
How to Make Chuflay
This is another nice easy cocktail to make. Start with two ice cubes in a glass. Pour in 2 oz. of Singani and 7 oz. of ginger ale. Add a squeeze of lime juice and top with a lime slice, stir it up, serve, and enjoy.
Good luck getting out of Brazil without somebody making you a Caipirinha. This refreshing cocktail is made with Brazilians most popular spirit, cachaça.
Cachaca was first made in the 1500s from fermented cane sugar juice making it similar to light rum.
If you can’t get your hands on cachaça there is a variation of this drink that uses vodka, but it lacks the distinct taste of the cachaça.
How to Make Caipirinha
To make a caipirinha, muddle 2 teaspoons of sugar with a few wedges of lime. Fill the glass with ice and pour in 2 oz. of cachaça. Garnish with extra lime and serve.
Chile: Pisco Sour
Though Chile is well known for its rich quality of wines, it also has an impressive array of traditional cocktails.
The pisco sour is a little bit of a conundrum as both Chile and Peru (vehemently) claim to have invented it. So it’s fair to say that we could credit it to both countries.
According to most tales, the drink was invented in the 1920s by a man named Victor Morris.
Morrison was a bartender and expatriate who apparently concocted the cocktail in his bar in Lima (which really does point towards this being originally from Peru).
Regardless, it’s a hugely popular drink in Chile as well as Peru.
How to Make Pisco Sour
The pisco sour contains 2 oz. of Pisco, 1 oz. of fresh lime juice, a half oz. of simple syrup, 1 egg white, and Angostura bitters.
To make, simply add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass through a strainer and top with a few drops of the bitters.
Colombia: The Colombia Cocktail
What better cocktail to try in Colombia than a cocktail named after the country itself? This creative cocktail tastes as great as it looks. When it’s made properly, it has the same red, blue and yellow layers of the Colombian flag.
How to Make Colombian Cocktail
It is made with vodka, grenadine syrup orange and lemon juice, and blue caraçoa. To make a Colombia cocktail, first mix the juices and vodka in a cocktail shaker and strain into a glass.
Then, to create the layers, carefully pour the grenadine and caraçoa separately down separate sides of the glass. These ingredients should settle on the bottom and stay separate to form the colorful players.
This can be made easier by pouring the liquid over the back of a spoon that is just touching the surface of the vodka and juice mix. This stops the grenadine and caraçoa from disturbing the cocktail and mixing together.
This is a great warm cocktail for cold nights and is a popular choice in Ecuador. The canelazo cocktail is also popular in Peru, Colombia, and Argentina.
The alcohol traditionally used in the canelazo is aguardiente. Aguardiente isn’t actually a specific alcohol but a term that refers to alcohols that have 29% to 60% alcohol by volume rate. This explains why it has the nickname “firewater”.
Different types of aguardientes are made by combining different fermented and distilled ingredients. The popular aguardiente in South America is made from cane sugar, similar to rum, so rum can be used as a substitute.
The canelazo is spiced with cinnamon and sometimes other spices like clove. This is also a great option for a non-alcoholic cocktail as the aguardiente or rum can be left out altogether.
How to Make Canelazo
To make a canelazo you will need 3 cups of water, 2/3 of a cup of light and dark brown sugar each, 1 lime, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp of whole cloves, 4 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 a cup of orange juice, 4 oz. of aguardiente.
Making a canelazo is similar to a hot toddy. First, you need to bring the water to the boil with the sugar, lime juice, salt, and spices. Let it simmer for about ten minutes.
Next, remove the mix from the heat and pour in the orange juice. Once the liquid has cooled a bit add in the aguardiente. Be careful not to cook away the alcohol when the liquid is too hot.
Serve the liquid hot by straining it into a mug.
Guyana: Guyanese or Caribbean Rum Punch American Cocktails
El Dorado is the main rum of Guyana. The rum was named after the lost city of gold that is apparently in the jungles of South America somewhere. The lost city was never found but the rum is spectacular.
The word punch actually means five when translated from the Sanskrit language. These punch drinks used to be made by using five ingredients: lemon juice, water, tea, alcohol, and sugar.
You might be familiar with the recipe rhyme “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak”. This little rhyme was made to represent the lime juice, sweetener, alcohol, and water that makes up a traditional punch.
A punch is a great cocktail to make for a group because it’s usually made in a large punch bowl and served up when desired.
How to Make Guyanese Rum Punch
Combine 4 oz. of El Dorado white rum, 2 oz. of Grenadine, 3 oz. of pineapple juice, 3 oz. of orange juice, a few drops of Angostura bitters, and the juice of a lime.
Simply stir all the ingredients until combined and ladle into glasses for yourself and guests.
Paraguay: Paraguay Passion
The name says it all with this one. This fruity cocktail is a must-have of the popular cocktails you’ll find in Paraguay, especially if you love passionfruit known as maracuya in Spanish.
How to Make Paraguay Passion
You will need ice, 2 oz. of passionfruit juice, 1 oz. of dark rum, and triple sec to make the Paraguay Passion.
Pour the passionfruit juice, rum, and triple sec into a cocktail shaker filled with use. Shake vigorously and serve by straining into a tall glass.
Peru: Chilcano de Pisco
Peru is known for a number of delicious dishes. But their cocktails are nothing to be ignored.
One in fact may remind you of the savory fish soup chilcano de pescado, but the Chilcano de Pisco is a refreshing and popular Peruvian cocktail.
Pisco is a type of brandy made from distilled grape juice in Peru and Chile. It was created in the 16th century by Spanish settlers who wanted an alternative to Orujo, which was a brandy that had to be imported from Spain.
This is another simple yet tasty South American cocktail recipe for any occasion.
How to Make Chilcano de Pisco
Gather up 4 oz. of ginger ale, 2 oz. of pisco, and the juice of half a lime.
Fill a tumbler with ice and pour over the pisco and lime juice. Add the ginger ale, stir and serve.
Suriname: Borgoe Rum Cola
People in Suriname love their rum, Borgoe being the most popular.
This rum is made by Suriname Alcoholic Beverages which was founded in 1966.
In 1982 SAB introduced a new version of the rum called Borgoe 82. This was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Marienburg sugar plantation which was originally used to make the rum in 1966.
Borgoe Rum Cola is the most popular cocktail in Suriname, so if you want to feel like you’ve experienced a bit of the Suriname culture without leaving the house, make yourself one of these.
How to Make Borgoe Rum Cola
You’ll need Borgoe rum, ice cubes, coke, and lemon juice to make a good Borgoe and coke.
Add one part Borgoe rum to about four parts of coke, poured over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon and enjoy.
In South America clericó is their version of sangria. It’s a great party drink when you are entertaining guests a bit like punch because you pre-make it in a jug and it’s ready to go.
Clericó is a combo of white wine and summer fruits and the fruit is just as yummy as the wine once it’s soaked up some of the flavors.
How to Make Clericó
To make clericó you will need two bottles of your favorite dry white wine, 1/4 cup of brandy, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 cups of peaches sliced, 1 cup of strawberries sliced, 1 cup of seedless grapes cut in half, sliced banana and ice.
Dissolve the sugar into the wine, brandy and lemon juice by stirring the liquid. Add all of the fruit except the banana and leave the clericó to chill for at least a few hours. Add the banana just before serving.
Make sure you get a bit of the fruit with each serve!
Venezuela: Ponche Crema
The poncho crema cocktail is a favorite at Christmas time in Venezuela, much like eggnog is in North America.
Poncho Crema is made with good quality Venezuelan rum, like Santa Teresa. This cocktail can be made a day before a special event and stored in the fridge before serving.
How to Make Ponche Crema
You will need 1.7 oz. of Venezuelan rum, 1.7 oz. of full cream milk, 6 oz. of sweet condensed milk, 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Combine the cinnamon and milk over the stove and remove it as soon as the milk starts to boil. Whisk the egg yolks with the vanilla while the milk cools.
When the milk is just at room temperature whisk in the egg mix. Add in the condensed milk and rum and whisk until smooth.
More Great Latin Drink & Food Recipes Await!
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