Text by Vamos Expeditions guide: David Corvacho Puente
Peru is a country with a legendary cuisine and from the point you land in Lima for those not lucky enough to have been born in Peru, you find yourself exposed to a huge variety of flavours, scents and textures which excite your senses, even before you know what you will order! So it’s not strange, that Peruvian Cuisine has been awarded accolades several times around the world, or that the city of Lima is considered the Food Capital of Latin America.
So here, we will talk about 8 of the most typical drinks that can be found in Lima. Each one is delicious and different in its own way. Some come from leaves, fruits, or corn, some are drunk pure or mixed, but they all have something in common, they all taste of Lima.
Drink #1: There is no drink more Peruvian than a Pisco Sour and every Peruvian know how to make –the best- Pisco Sour. It has 3 main ingredients: pisco (a distillation obtained from the fermentation of grape juice), Peruvian lime and sugar syrup. Besides these three, you add a bit of ice, egg white and a few drops of Angostura Bitter and shake. Pisco Sours were invented at the Morris Bar in downtown Lima (by the barmen Alfonso Bergoyen, Gracian Cabrera and Alberto Mezarina) in the mid 1920’s and since then it has been the main drink in Bars in Lima. Nowadays, some of the most famous pisco sours maybe the ones served at the Bolivar or Maury Hotels or the ones at Huaringas Bar, where you can get as many flavours as there are fruits in Peru. For a delicious and traditional experience, I would recommend to try the Cathedral Pisco Sour at the Bolivar Hotel.
Drink #2: Pilsen Callao is the oldest beer in Peru. It was born in Lima in 1863 and for 150 years it has consolidated as the favourite beer for the “Limenos”. It is a light, golden coloured and smooth scented pilsner, which represents friend and fellowship. A Pilsen very “helena al polo” (slang for pole-like frozen) on a sunny beach day has no match…and even better, if you enjoy it with a ceviche. If you follow this link, you can take a look at the amazing history of Pilsen Callao
Drink #3: Inca Kola is the flavour of Peru. This is by far, the Peruvians’ favourite drink. There is hardly a Peruvian who does not like a very cold, Inca Kola, in a traditional glass bottle. It is a yellow coloured, soft drink made from lemongrass and since it appeared -in 1935- it has been the leader of the market and together with Irn-Bru from Scotland, these are the only two soft drinks in the world which in their own country surpass sales of by a lot Cola Cola. Besides that, Inca Kola is the number one choice soft drink to have with delicious Peruvian cuisine, because it goes well with everything!
Drink #4: The Res de Chilcano comes on a tray and it includes a bottle of Pisco, a big bottle of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, an ice bucket, lemon slices and a small jar of macerated cherries. The Res is a tradition, repeated daily at the Queirolo Bar and which seems to have been born in this bar. The Chilcano is a drink which appeared in downtown Lima in the early 1900’s. It is said that in the late 1800’s, the Italians living in Lima had the tradition of drinking “Buon Giorno” , something like a power drink for after a rough night, made from grappa and ginger ale. When they arrived to Lima, grappa was quickly replaced by Pisco. Nowadays and like Pisco Sours, Chilcanos can be made with any fruit available and macerated fruits. If you find yourself strolling in downtown Lima, take some time and visit the Bar Queirolo, one of the first and most traditional bars in Lima, http://bodegaqueirolo.com/visitanos
Drink #5: Emoliente is the king of the street car drinks and has been consumed in the Peruvian capital since the colonial era, but its exact origin has been lost in time. Drunk warm, it is the best way to stay warm in the winter days and if you drink it cold it is an extremely refreshing drink. It was born as a medicinal drink which had healing properties that act on the digestive, respiratory and reproduction systems. It also helps to fight cholesterol, as a detox agent, helps healing scars in the stomach, to get rid of kidney stones and to fight gastritis. On top of all of that it is also delicious! It is made by boiling horse tail (a kind of weed), toasted barley, boldo leafes, quince, pineapple skin, sugar and lemon juice. If you want to try the best Emoliente in Lima, you have to go the corner of Brasil and General Borgono avenues in Pueblo Libre and look for Mr. Walter Villega, who for the last 15 years has been selling his drinks to “Limenos” of all classes everyday.
Drink #6: The most famous and delicious fruit drink in Peru is Chicha Morada which has been drunk since before the Spaniards arrived in the 1500’s, first with medicinal and then with ceremonial purposes. The origin of this drink is in the Andes, and it is made of purple corn (culli or ckolli), fruits and spices. It is in Lima where it is used as a companion of the typical criollo dishes. Besides being a delicious and refreshing drink it has very important medicinal properties, as it has a high anti-oxidation capacity, fights colon cancer, reduces high blood pressure and cholesterol, helps blood circulation and protects our blood vessels. A glass of Chicha is always welcome and it tastes of Peru, If you want to go and try the best Chicha Morada in Lima you should try the one at the El Rincon Que No Conoces typical restaurant. http://elrinconquenoconoces.pe/
Drink #7: Considering the incredible amount of fruits available in Peru, it is no surprise that everywhere in Lima you can find a Cremolada shop. Similar to sherbet, Cremoladas are made by freezing fruit juice, crushing it and serving. Due to this, it is a very refreshing summer drink and the most traditional place to have it is at the Curich, where since 1942 over 50 different fruit Cremoladas have been served. Some fruits might be unknown for foreigners but they are favourites for limenos. So do yourself a favour and visit the Curich! http://www.cremoladascurich.com/
Drink #8: If you want to feel and look like a real limeno in Lima, you have to try Champu. Champu comes from the quechua word chapuy, which means to stir. Since colonial times sweet vendors in Lima walked around the streets yelling out loud their different products and this was the way in which Champu became not only known everywhere, but one of the favourite drinks in Lima. To make a good Champu you need to boil and stir soursop, mote (bolied corn), cinnamon, water, quince, clove, orange, sugar, pineapple, apples and corn. Champu must be drunk very hot in a long glass, sprinkled with dusted cinnamon and it is a drink which really tastes like tradition. To drink the best Champu in Lima, you have to walk around downtown and look for a street car or a crier, walking around offering his products…if it gets hard, just ask and you will find it. This is part of the traveling adventure and in any way you look at it, Peru is an adventure!