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What to drink while travelling in Peru

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Pisco sour cocktail

What to drink in Peru

This week we look at some of the top drinks of Peru which give a real taste for the country’s tipples.

Check Tom’s Wanderlust blog about top places to eat across Peru, too.

Drinks in Peru

Imagine a holiday to France without wine. A visit to Dublin without Guinness. An impromptu Cuban street party without rum.

While not everyone likes alcohol, for many tasting the local tipple is an essential part of any holiday. Peru is not internationally renowned for any one drink, but these will give you the essential taste of Peru.

1. Pisco

Made from pressed grapes this is the quintessential Peruvian spirit, used in cocktails such as Pisco Sour, or drunk pure. A clear grape brandy not dissimilar to the Grappa of Italy and just as potent.

Read and try Alan’s Pisco Sour recipe.

 

There are 8 varieties of grapes used in Pisco.

  • 4 non aromatic varieties – Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Criolla, Uvina
  • 4 aromatic varieties – Torontel, Moscatel, Italia, Albilla
  • Pisco acholado is the name given to blended Piscos

 

Where can I try it?

Pisco tastings are available at a variety of restaurants and bars. We recommend the Pisco Museum in Cusco. A bar rather than an actual museum. The Head Sommelier Sergio will guide you through the various types available.

 

2. Chicha

Those red plastic bags stuck on bamboo poles denote Chicha for sale. As soon as you step outside of the town of Cusco you will start to see them everywhere. Normally made from corn this home brew gets stronger with age. It is very refreshing on a hot day and actually very tasty.

The pink version is made with wild strawberries. Served in Peru since long before the Incas, this used to be served in pottery cups called K’eros, but is now served in special pint-sized glasses.

 

Where can I try it?

Your guide will be able to find you somewhere to try it in the Sacred Valley or along many of our treks. While it is served widely, not everywhere will be as hygienic as you like so best follow your guide’s advice.

 

3. Beer

Gassy bottled lager. That is what until recently was available for beer lovers in Peru. Pilsen, Cristal, Arequipeña and Cusqueña are the best known brands. In Lima and the north they will be served ice cold.

In Cusco, however hot a day, you will have trouble getting a cold one outside of the main tourist bars and restaurants. The locals believe drinking cold beer is bad for you in a place where the temperature can change so quickly.

However in the last few years micro-breweries have started to flourish, with Barbarian brewed in Lima by a couple of young Peruvian lads who learnt all about real ale whilst living in Germany, they make IPA, a red lager and a porter.

There is also the wide variety of beers from Sierra Andina with some excellent drops to try.

In Cusco, you should try Zenith Beer. Sold on draught at Nortons on the Plaza de Armas, and very shortly to be available in bottles in a variety of bars and restaurants. They sell an IPA, porter, brown ale and a blonde beer.

 

Where can I try it?

Mainly sold in bottles in Lima restaurants, across Huaraz and in a few Cusco restaurants, beers are starting to creep across the country into the larger cities.

 

4. Wine

Once upon a time, if you asked us where to get a decent wine in Peru, the answer would have been ‘In Argentina or Chile’. But things have changed. Restaurants often have extensive wine lists, admittedly dominated by imported wines. But there is now good Peruvian wine available.

Wine has been produced in Peru ever since the Spanish conquest back in the 16th Century. Most of it was totally undrinkable, unless you like your wine very sweet. And very rough.

Help came  in 2009 when the Santiago Queirolo estate, which had been producing wine since 1880 just south of Lima, released their Intipalka label. It was the culmination of a modernisation process that started in 2000. And it really is pretty good. They offer 10 varieties.

 

  • Tannat (most commonly found in Uruguay)
  • Syrah
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec ( Argentina’s most famous wine),
  • Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

 

They also offer the slightly higher priced Intipalka Reservas:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon/ Syrah
  • Malbec/Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon/ Petit Verdot.

 

All that’s left is to book the tickets to Peru and try these fantastic drinks. Cheers!

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