Feeling parched? When you’re in Peru, you’re spoilt for choice with refreshing drinks to quench your thirst. From refreshing pisco sour and fruity milkshakes to the purple corn beverage known as chicha morada, here are some classic Peruvian drinks to try on your trip.
1. Pisco sour
Pisco sour is Peru’s national drink. Peruvians love it that much, it even has its own national holiday known as National Pisco Sour Day, which takes place on the first Saturday of February. It’s made by mixing pisco (a type of brandy made from fermented grape juice), lime juice, egg whites and sugar. This cool, creamy and zesty cocktail always goes down a treat.
2. Mate de coca
Mate de coca, or coca tea, is a herbal tea made from coca plant leaves. It tastes a bit like green tea and has a mild stimulating effect similar to coffee. But just note that a cup of coca tea may be enough to cause a positive drug test. Mate de coca is loved by locals all over Peru and is hailed for its ability to help with altitude sickness. If you're feeling queasy on a hike, you'll likely be offered a cup to ease your symptoms.
3. Lucuma milkshake
Peru is known around the world for its abundant fresh produce, and one of its most beloved fruits is lúcuma. Looks-wise, this unique fruit is a cross between mango, pear and avocado, but when you slice it open and scoop out the flesh you’ll be treated to a wonderfully sweet, almost caramel flavour. The flesh is also dry instead of wet and slimy, which makes it a great base for many Peruvian desserts and smoothies. Do yourself a favour, and order a lucuma milkshake – your tastebuds won’t regret it!
Not to be mistaken for chilcano de pescado (fish soup), chilcano is another must-try Peruvian cocktail. It's like a pisco sour, except the egg whites and sugar are swapped with ginger ale. A chilcano is an ideal beverage to drink on a balmy summer’s evening.
5. Inca Kola
If you're travelling to Peru, you must try an Inca Kola. This super sweet fizzy drink is bright yellow and tastes just like bubblegum. It's one of the country's most popular non-alcoholic beverages – even more so than Coca-Cola!
6. Chicha morada
Chicha morada is another classic Peruvian drink. It's made from boiled purple corn (yes, purple corn exists – and it’s totally delicious!), pineapple skin, cinnamon, clove and sugar. Purple corn is native to Peru, and food historians can trace its origins back to the Inca era when it was consumed for its health benefits.
Emoliente is a wonderfully warming beverage that is particularly popular in the winter. This herbal tea is made with plantain leaf, alfalfa sprouts, barley, dried horsetail and flaxseed. It’s known for its healing benefits and is drunk by locals when they’re feeling under the weather. You can grab a cup of emoliente from street vendors.
8. Jugo especial
It’s not completely accurate to call jugo especial a drink, as it’s more of a meal. This hearty drink is made by blending a variety of fruits, a rich Peruvian syrup called algarrobina, dark Cusquena beer (optional, especially if it's for breakfast), and a raw egg. It’s sweet, thick, creamy and slightly bitter – you might want to grab two straws as it’s usually big enough to share.
9. Chica de jora
Chicha de jora is similar to chica morada, except it’s made with yellow corn and is alcoholic. The ancient beverage dates back to the Inca times and is made by germinating corn, removing the sugars, boiling the wort and leaving it to ferment in barrels. It’s a unique and acidic taste that some people compare to apple cider.
10. Liche de tigre
Literally translating to ‘tiger’s milk’, liche de tigre is another drink that is better described as a meal. It’s made using the leftover juice from a plate of ceviche – Peru’s national dish – which consists of fish juice, lime juice, chillis, sliced onions and coriander (and maybe a few other ingredients depending on who’s making it!). The liquid is then poured into a small glass and served alongside the dish. If you’ve had one too many pisco sours, do what the locals do and have a glass of liche de tigre the morning after – apparently it’s a great hangover cure.
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