Travelling is thirsty business, and bottled water gets boring. Sure, you could grab a Coke – but it’s a lot more fun to step outside your comfort zone and sample the local beverages. With that in mind, here are my picks for the top 5 drinks to try in Peru:
1) Pisco Sour
If I could drink only one thing in Peru, this would be it. Yes, Pisco Sours are that good! Peru’s national drink is a refreshing mix of Pisco (local grape brandy), key lime juice, simple syrup and egg whites. The ingredients are shaken with ice and then topped with three drops of bitters. Delicioso! But beware, they’re potent: each contains 3 ounces of alcohol.
2) Chicha Morada
You know a drink’s popular when it’s constantly sold out at restaurants. It took me three days to finally land a glass of chicha morada – but the wait was worth it! This traditional beverage is non-alcoholic and deep purple in colour. It’s made by boiling purple corn with pineapple, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. It’s served cold and is sweet with a nice little zing.
3) Coca Tea
I’m not much of a tea drinker, but coca tea is a godsend in the Andes! Raw leaves from the coca plant (yes, that coca) are steeped in hot water. The result is a greenish yellow, slightly bitter brew that acts as a mild stimulant. You’re not gonna get high from it – the level of coca alkaloid is way too low – but the tea does help ease the headaches that come with high altitudes.
4) Inca Kola
You can’t go anywhere in Peru without seeing this neon yellow soft drink in bottles and on billboards. It’s been around since 1935 and is a source of national pride. The main ingredient in Inca Kola is a plant called lemon verbena, but I didn’t find anything lemony about it. It tastes more like cream soda, only sweeter. Too sweet for me!
5) Chicha de Jora
Peruvians have been brewing this corn beer for millennia. Indigenous groups use it in rituals to bless Mother Earth. That’s where I got my first taste of it. Not gonna lie – to me, it smelled like beer and vomit, and didn’t taste much better. But don’t take my word for it – give it a try. You can find chicha de jora in most rural communities at “chicherias” – just look for the houses sporting bamboo poles topped by a red flag or coloured plastic bag.
Have you tried any of these Peruvian drinks? What did you think?