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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with Pisco

17Jul 12

Chilcano, a Peruvian classic with a story

Chilcano, cocktailDuring the last decade, I have visited Peru various times. Lima, the capital, is a fascinating place. There are colourful street markets everywhere you go, and people are always friendly and ready for a drink and/or a chat.

On one of my latest trips, I met a chap by the name of Jaime Pesaque, who happens to own a restaurant in town. After dinner at his place one evening, he offered to mix me a drink he reckoned I had never tried before. The name of the drink was, as I recall, chilcano. At the time it seemed an odd name because it is also the name of a famous dish in Peru. Today, I want to tell you about this drink.

The chilcano is a traditional Peruvian beverage. Its main ingredient is Pisco, which is the country´s national drink. Pisco is a colourless or yellowish-to-amber coloured grape brandy produced in wine-making regions of Peru and Chile. It was developed by Spanish settlers in the 16th century as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain.

The story of the drink dates back to the 1930´s, when Italian immigrants introduced a drink called “Buon Giorno” into the country. The cocktail was made by mixing grappa with ginger ale and a slice of lemon. Once the drink became popular, the locals started adding Pisco into the mix instead of the grappa. Word spread rapidly, and Peruvians finally had an alternative to the traditional pisco sour.

The chilcano is a strangely invigorating drink, and is in this way similar to the hot fish soup with the same name. It has an agile and refreshing taste, a bit like a margarita lemonade. It is a very simple drink to mix, and a great option for a summer evening.


  • 6cl Pisco
  • 12cl ginger ale
  • Half a lime

How it’s made:
1. Fill an 8 ounce tumbler with ice cubes.
2. Pour the pisco over the ice.
3. Squeeze the lime juice into the glass.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 serving

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10Jul 12

Peruvian Algarrobina

Peruvian Algarrobina
Unlike the Pisco Sour, which is claimed by both the Peruvians and the Chileans, I think it’s safe to say that the Algarrobina cocktail (made with the spirit Pisco) is uniquely Peruvian. When I was in Peru, it was offered to me as a pre-dinner drink, but I prefer to reserve this creamy and sweet, eggnog style cocktail for after dinner, as the mixture of algarrobina or carob syrup, condensed milk and egg yolk makes it a dessert in itself!

Algarrobina is a syrup produced from the pods of the Black Carob tree, a leguminous tree that grows in South America. The carob syrup that you can get in Europe is most likely to be from the Carob tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region, but is similar to the one used for Algarrobina. Carob syrup is often used to make an alternative for chocolate, as it contains neither caffeine nor an alkaloid that is found in chocolate and that can be toxic to some people and pets.

If you have a really sweet tooth, you could pair it with this basic sponge cake recipe. Eat them separately, or pour over the cocktail on the soft sponge for a moist treat.

Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 6cl Peruvian Pisco
  • 1.5cl carob syrup
  • 3cl condensed milk
  • 1 small egg yolk
  • 3 ice cubes
  • ground cinnamon for garnish
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the cinnamon in a blender, until the ice has liquified.
  2. Serve in a chilled glass and sprinkle with cinnamon.


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17Feb 12

Pisco Sour

Pisco SourMy drink for today is one of the oldest and most controversial drinks I have ever come across. When I arrived in Peru, I asked what the national drink was. They replied: Pisco Sour. A few months later, in Chile, I asked the same question and got the same answer. Although Chileans own the trademark of the brand “Pisco Sour,” Peruvians claim that the Quechua tribe was the first to mix the cocktail in a town called Pisco, hence the name. (Pisco is also known for its ceviche, which makes a nice meal to accompany your cocktail.) However, both use the drink as a welcome gesture. If in Chile or Peru, when someone says, “un Pisquito para mi amigo” (a small Pisco for my friend), to refuse would be an insult.

Pisco is a spirit made by distilling grapes in clay jugs. Egg whites are then added and shaken (not stirred!). Pisco Sour is easy to make and can only be mastered with patience and practice. Although its taste is sweet and refreshing, my advice is: do not attempt to drink too many with a local because they are used to it. Also, you can hardly taste the alcohol, so nothing seems to happen until too late.

Needed for a true Chilean/Peruvian Pisco sour:

  • 6 cl Pisco
  • 1 eggs
  • 2 spoonfuls icing sugar
  • 1.5 cl lemon juice
  • Handful of crushed ice

How to comfortably shake a drink with eggs:
1. Put ice into a cocktail shaker.
2. Add Pisco, icing sugar and egg white
3. Finally, add lemon juice and then shake energetically for a few seconds.
You will be able to consider yourself an expert when you can get the egg white to sit on top of your Pisco Sour in the shape of white froth. How? With lots of practice and patience. A proper Pisco Sour is served in a champagne glass. Sit down, relax with your visitors and give them the welcome of not one, but two countries.

Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 cocktail

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