The culture of Peru is packed to the brim with diversity, and you will likely have no shortage of unique experiences. From the food to the music and the incredible natural beauty, you won’t have to wait for very long to try something new. For the millions who visit Peru every year, one of the biggest surprises is Peru’s food culture, one of the most underappreciated in the world. But the drinks of Peru are fascinating as well and are worth just as much attention when you go out to lunch or dinner. To make the most out of your trip, these are the drinks you absolutely must try. They are common in Peru, but rare everywhere else, making them perfect for checking off of the bucket list.
You won’t have to look very hard to find this drink in Peru, no matter the time of day. Pisco is a type of brandy made from grapes, and widely considered an Andean specialty. A traditional Sour made with Pisco is a claim-to- fame for the region, and no trip to Peru is complete without at least a few Pisco Sours. The liquor is sweet and smooth, and goes brilliantly with the sharp citrus flavors that make a Sour the perfect hot afternoon refresher. With the light froth of an egg white blended right in, the Pisco Sour starts to feel as much like a dessert as a high-end cocktail.
Mate de Coca
If you’re heading into the Andes Mountains, it would be irresponsible to leave your Coca Tea behind. Despite what they want you to think on the show “NARCOS”, Coca has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant, and is one of the best ways for travelers to adjust to the burdens of Peru’s highest altitudes. Cusco is situated at over 11,000 feet, twice as high as Denver or Mexico City, the highest cities in North America.
The air up here is very thin, as you will quickly discover, and you have to breathe just a bit harder than normal. One way to manage this, though, is with Coca Tea, or Mate de Coca. Order a cup any time of the day. Don’t worry, it’s not going to get you “high”. It would take thousands of leaves to reach anything comparable to Coca’s more illicit forms. Coca Tea will, however, help prevent “soroche”, or altitude sickness, and give you a very mild stimulant effect, similar to coffee.Available almost everywhere.
Did you know that corn can come in purple? It’s true! The Inca, who were famous for their innovations in agriculture, especially potatoes, also possessed many colorful varieties of corn. Chicha are any number of fruit beverages in Peru, and Chicha Morada is the most popular. Cooks take maiz morado, or purple corn, and boil it with spices, cloves, pineapple, and sugar to create a delicious and refreshing beverage. Try its alcoholic cousin, Chicha de Jora, a beer made from corn.
Peru is an incredible place for fruit to flourish, its diverse climate benefitting a huge number of varieties. The Spanish Empire brought fruits from all over the world, and where there is fruit, there is juice. In Peru you will enjoy the best fresh juices of your life, in all types of flavors and styles. This famous Peruvian delight, though, you have to try: It’s a Jugo Especial, or Special Juice. It begins with all the aforementioned fresh fruits, blended together in a tropical combo. Then, the fresh juice is blended with a bit of yogurt, a whole egg, and an entire local beer. Yes, a beer. This is truly more than a beverage, but an experience. Look for it at your local juice bars.
The colors on the flag of Peru are red and white, but the real national color of Peru is Inka Kola Yellow. A truly unique beverage found only in one country, where soda is called gaseosa and not refresco, Inka Kola is everywhere in Peru. The color is impossible to describe as anything but “radioactive”, but the easiest way to describe the taste is “bubble gum vanilla cream”. Its extremely sweet, but give it a try. It’s the most consumed beverage in Peru for a reason.