No matter when you visit Peru or where you go, it’s pretty much impossible to escape your trip without trying at least one Peruvian drink.
Like many other countries, drinking is part of Peru’s culture and they take great pride in the beverages they share with the world (even if a few of them take some getting use to). They also use some ingredients that cannot be found anywhere else in the world like local herbs, spices, and fruits.
We’ve compiled a list of eight traditional Peruvian drinks and no matter what flavors you prefer, you’re guaranteed to find a beverage you enjoy. Many are made with plants native to the Andes mountains, and a few boast medicinal properties. Even if you’re not sure you’ll like the taste of something, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. What is travel for if not experiencing something new?
Peruvian Drinks: 8 Ways to Quench Your Thirst During Your Stay
1. Chicha Morada
Chicha Morada is a drink you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the world. This unique drink is made using maiz morado, or purple corn. Purple corn is a native Peruvian plant, and its history in the nation dates back to before the Inca Empire.
There are a number of health benefits to purple corn, as it lowers your blood pressure and reduces your overall risk of heart disease. Chicha Morada is a non-alcoholic drink created by boiling purple corn, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and pineapple skin. The deep purple color is unlike anything you’ve seen before, and the natural ingredients are wonderfully sweet.
Chicha is served pretty much everywhere so even if it’s not love at first site you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try it!
2. Inca Kola
Inca Kola is pretty much the Coca-Cola of Peru – locals drink it like water, advertisements are everywhere, and the company sponsors everything.
The drink is non alcoholic and colored a fluorescent yellow with a taste unlike soft drinks you’ll find anywhere else. It’s exceptionally sweet, with a flavor similar to bubblegum.
Inca Kola was created in 1935, when soda creators Jose and Martha Lindley were producing a drink to celebrate their business. Now, you can find Inca Kola throughout the entire nation. Its marketing calls it the “Pride of Peru,” and you can find it in almost any restaurant in the country. In fact, it’s the most recommended drink to suit traditional Peruvian dishes.
3. Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour is the most popular drink in Peru and made up of the Peruvian liquor Pisco, which is a bit like tequila. It’s considered to be the national drink and even has a national holiday on the first Saturday of every February when the country celebrates this Peruvian alcoholic drink with National Pisco Sour Day.
While pisco makes up the base of this drink, the rest of the recipe calls for Angostura bitters, egg white, ice, syrup, and lime juice. The drink strikes a fine balance between sweet sugar syrup and more tart lime juice, making it exceptionally easy to consume.
Chilcano also has a Pisco base like the Pisco Sour and is traditionally created by mixing Pisco with Angostura bitters, ice, ginger ale, and lime juice. It’s a less complex drink than the Pisco Sour and lacks the same sugary sweetness. For people who prefer less sweetness in their drinks, this is a good choice.
There are a number of variations on this drink that people can create using different fruit juices. Lucuma and passion fruit juice are both popular. Even though it’s not the national drink, the Chilcano is still celebrated across the nation and in mid-January the country holds a week-long festival in this drink’s name.
5. Chicha de Jora
Chicha de Jora is a Peruvian beer native to the Andes mountains, with its historical roots in the Inca Empire. It’s made from Jora corn, a yellow corn native to the Andes region and you’re most likely to find this beer featured in Andean villages across the Sacred Valley.
One of the most unique characteristics of the beer is the thick foam. Traditionally, people spill their first portion on the earth, offering it to the Earth Mother, or Pachamama. Your first taste of the drink will be slightly sweet, but then you’ll be hit by the same sour taste you might find in bitter apple cider.
Traveling to Arequipa? Be sure to read our experience hiking Misti Volcano
6. Chicha de Frutilla
For people who don’t like the bitter taste of the Chicha de Jora, the Chicha de Frutilla might be an ideal alternative. This drink, otherwise called the Frutillada, uses Chicha de Jora as its base component. However, the beer is combined with fresh strawberries and added sugar, which takes the sting out of its bitterness.
The drink is a pink color that you might ordinarily associate with smoothies. Frutillada is one of many Peruvian cocktails that can be found in local restaurants throughout the Andes and a serving traditionally comes in an enormous glass, so you can expect to need both hands to hold it!
7. Mate de Coca
Mate de Coca is an herbal tea that’s famous throughout the Andes region. It’s made by steeping coca plant leaves and people (especially tourists) generally use this drink for the treatment of altitude sickness. If your travels take you toward Machu Picchu, regular consumption of this tea will help your adaptation to the increasing altitudes. It tastes like most green teas you’re probably familiar with.
This tea is slightly controversial, however, because the leaves contain alkaloids, the extraction of which provides the source for cocaine. Even though there’s only a small amount of alkaloids in the leaves, a cup of this tea can cause you to test positive for cocaine use so make sure not to take any with you when you leave Peru!
Emoliente is guaranteed to be unlike any other drink you’ve had before. Vendors sell it on street corners and it’s particularly popular during cold weather as people swear by the herbs as a natural remedy for colds and flu.
The base of the drink is made from a mixture of herbs and this mixture can vary from vendor to vendor, but it traditionally includes alfalfa sprouts, plantain leaf, flax seed, dried horsetail, and barley. There may be additional liquids made of plants native to the Andes region.
Whether you’ll like the taste or not varies widely from person to person – it’s like drinking a slightly fizzy, fruity, warm drink.
Peruvian Drinks FAQ
1. What is a popular drink in Peru?
The most popular alcoholic drink in Peru is the Pisco Sour (it even has its own national holiday). The most popular non-alcoholic drink is Inca Kola, a soda that is golden and tastes like bubble gum.
2. What drinks go well with Peruvian food?
The pisco sour or the chicha morada is often enjoyed with Peruvian food. Locals also will enjoy Inca Kola with their meals. While in Peru, you can also enjoy their locally produced red wines and beer.
3. What do Peruvians drink for lunch?
Most menú del dia restaurants serve chicha morada and local fruit juices along with coffee or tea at lunch.
Whether you’re prepping for your trip to Peru or looking to make a drink that reminds you of your days traveling to this picturesque country, we hope you found the inspiration you were looking for. These are our favorite Peruvian drinks and we know you’ll find one that will wet your whistle!