If you’re not familiar with pisco then you probably don’t know anything about the famous Peru vs. Chile debate. It’s so heated that even National Geographic reported about the origins of pisco.
The drink, which dates back to the 19th century, is from both Peru and Chile. At least, that’s what both countries claim.
What is Pisco?
Pisco is a type of brandy which is extremely popular in South America, particularly in Peru and Chile. It is typically clear in appearance but can also have a yellowish colored presentation at times. Pisco is a high proof alcohol that is produced by distilling fermented grape juice.
The great thing about this strong Peruvian/Chilean drink? You can mix it into just about any cocktail, all of which are great for any season of the year.
What’s the Difference Between Peruvian Pisco and Chilean Pisco?
Before we tell you about the great cocktails you can use Pisco in, let’s take a look at what makes Peruvian and Chilean pisco different.
Ironically enough, both countries typically use the same grapes in many instance to produce pisco. The two more popular varieties are moscate and torontel. However, where and how they grow them is quite different. Peruvian companies tend to produce them on the coast where there is more humidity. While Chilean producers grow them in the desert where this is obviously much less humidity.
Next, because of the stringent laws in Peru, Peruvian Pisco is only allowed to be distilled once so the taste and bouquet will remain very prominent and consistent. While Chilean pisco can be distilled many times, allowing the pisco to gradually lose its natural flavor and aroma but take on those characteristics the producer is looking for. As a result of multiple distillations the pisco alcohol content will increase; the more times it is distilled the higher the alcohol content.
Lastly, the two countries differ in how the pisco aging process occurs. In Peru, because of the strict purity laws, the pisco goes directly into ceramic, stainless-steel or glass containers after distillation where it ages for three months. That’s where it will remain until ready for bottling and consumption.
In Chile, producers typically age pisco in wooden barrels. And because Chilean regulations are not as strict, you can come across Chilean piscos with higher and lower proof percentages because producers are permitted to add water to their finished pisco product.
Both countries produce excellent pisco and it simply comes down to preference and of course, taste!
Okay, enough of that, here are some of the best pisco cocktails you’ll ever find.
The pisco sour is perhaps the most famous Peruvian cocktail, at least if you ask a foreigner.
Let’s start off by clarifying that in Peru, locals make pisco by distilling grapes. This means that it’s a type of brandy. So, you can expect that kind of flavor from a pisco cocktail.
However, the pisco sour takes this to a whole different level.
- 3 oz Pisco
- 1 oz Lime Juice
- Simple Syrup to Taste, about 1/2 oz
- 1 Egg White
- Angostura Bitters
- 4 Ice Cubes
- Chill glass in freezer.
- Combine the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and ice in a blender.
- Blend until the ice is completely crushed .
- Pour into the chilled glass.
- Add a dash of bitters to the foam for garnish.
The lime gives it the sour taste while the egg whites turn the drink into a frothy concoction that is unlike anything else you’ve ever tasted.
If you feel like the drink is a bit strong, that’s because it is.
Pisco sours are notorious for being pretty strong. But, you should count your blessings, because locals drink their pisco neat.
Try this if you want to impress a local, but stick with a pisco sour if you want to enjoy the cocktail. And if you like, try the chicha and maracuya versions of Pisco sour too.
Aguaymanto is a Peruvian fruit known in English as Physalis or Cape Gooseberry. They are medium sized golden berries that have a sour taste and a chewy texture. They also happen to be the main ingredient for the Aguaymanto Sour cocktail.
- 2 oz Aguaymanto juice
- 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 small egg white
- 3 oz Pisco
- 5 Ice Cubes
- 1 oz Jarabe de Goma
- Angostura Bitters, Optional
- Add the ice cubes and aguaymanto juice in the blender, blend until all the ice is crushed.
- Add pisco, lime and Jarabe de Goma
- Finally add the egg white and beat until foaming.
- Serve in a short glass and decorate with angostura bitters.
Chilcano de Pisco
This is a surprisingly good drink considering how simple it is to make. Chilcano de Pisco is very similar to the Pisco Sour but as we mentioned easier to make. All you need to do is pour your Chilcano ingredients over ice and they’ll essentially mix themselves. A nice drink to enjoy on a hot summer night.
- 4 oz Ginger Ale
- 2 oz Pisco
- 2 oz Lime Juice
- Add the pisco and lime juice to a highball glass filled with ice.
- Top with ginger ale and add the bitters.
- Garnish with a lime twist.
Okay Pisco Punch is not a exactly a Peruvian cocktail. While it does use Pisco in its preparation it was actually invented at the end of the 19th century, in San Francisco, California. Still, this Pisco cocktail packs a punch!
- 2 oz Pisco
- 2 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1 oz Fresh lime juice
- 1 oz Simple Syrup
- Pineapple Chunks & Cherries
- Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice.
- Shake well and strain into a chilled glass filled with fresh ice.
- Garnish with pineapple chunks and a cherry.
Algarrobina is as Peruvian as Peruvian gets! Algarrobina is a syrup produced from the pods of a leguminous tree that grows in South America called the Black Carob tree. It is used not only in cocktails but to make smoothies or simply mixed with milk.
The Algarrobina cocktail has been called the Peruvian eggnog and is enjoyed typically after dinner.
- 2 oz Pisco
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 oz Condensed Milk
- 1/2 oz Algarrobina (Carob Syrup)
- 3 Ice Cubes
- Garnish with Cinnamon Powder
- Mix all the ingredients in a blender, until the ice has liquified.
- Serve in a chilled glass and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Machu Picchu Cocktail
You don’t have to travel to Machu Picchu to try all of the local flavors of the famous Incan city.
What’s just about as impressive as the flavors, however, are the colors of the drink, which resemble the colors of the Incan Tawantinsuyu empire’s flag.
This aromatic and fruity drink uses a pisco base for flavor and punch. Then, it layers on grenadine, orange juice and crème de menthe for the colors.
We’re not going to lie, it’s a pretty tasty mix, and the aroma of the drink add to the overall effects.
If you plan on visiting Cusco, you’ll definitely want to order this if you’re trying pisco mixed drinks. It’s from Cusco, so you’ll find lots of bars offering it at a higher quality than you might in other areas of the country.
However, it’s become a staple amongst Peru cocktails all over the country.
- 1 oz Grenadine Syrup
- 3 oz Orange Juice
- 1 Dash Green Creme de Menthe
- 2 oz Pisco
- Ice Cubes
- 1 Maraschino Cherry
- Fill a tall glass with ice cubes.
- Pour in 1 oz of the pisco, the orange juice and the grenadine.
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the remaining pisco, creme de menthe and four ice cubes and shake well.
- Pour on top of the orange juice mixture in the tall glass and add a straw. Do not mix or the colors will blend.
Té Piteado or Peruvian Spiked Tea
Looking for something a little bit warmer?
Peru gets cold, which is why Peruvians have created té piteado, which literally translates to spiked tea.
If you’re from the southern part of the United States or have ever visited, then you might associate this with a hot toddy, only stronger and better.
Peruvian spiked tea is made with pisco, lime juice, and various herbs and spices.
It’s popular in cities that are at higher altitudes, and it certainly does its job of warming you up inside and out.
Some bars will add licorice, mint, or even cinnamon, and they’re all equally as delicious depending on your tastes.
- 1 Tea Bag
- 1 oz Pisco
- 1 oz Honey
- 1/2 oz Lime Juice
- 3 Sheets of Kion
- Boiling water
- Add the tea bag, pisco, honey, lime juice and sheets of lion to a teacup.
- Add the boiling water to the cup.
- Let rest for a few minutes.
- Remove tea bag and stir well.
Exploring More Than Pisco Cocktails
Looking to try more of Peruvian culture than just pisco cocktails?
We don’t blame you. There’s a lot to delight in when it comes to Peruvian food and drink.
If you’re interested in finding delicious dishes to pair with your pisco sour or spiked Peruvian tea, then you’re in luck.
Check out our guide to the 17 best Peruvian foods you have to try. Pair them with pisco and you’re good to go.
And if you would like to bring home the delicious flavors of Peru, visit our online store of Peruvian foods and drinks. Not only do we offer imported Peruvian ingredients but check out vast collection of Peruvian recipes too!
Our blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods & drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a wide variety of hard to find freshly imported foods & drinks from all over Latin America and Spain.