Peru

Cusco

Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, was once the largest city in the America’s and the capital of the Incan Empire. Now it’s the seventh largest city in Peru and hosts more than two million visitors each year as the gateway to Machu Picchu.

Coca Leaves, Fresh Strawberry Chicha and venomous giant monkey frogs

 

In this episode I go Four Sheets in Cusco, Peru. I fend off altitude sickness with Coca leaf tea as well as other Coca leaf inspired cocktails. Now that we're acclimated it's off to experience traditional Chicha, a corn based drink. From there we visit the Pisco Museum, a shrine to Peruvian Pisco and enjoy several of Peru's national cocktail. After that it's an adventure to drink Peruvian craft beer, Te Macho and then suffer through one of the most brutal hangover cures I've ever experienced.

A Beautiful Island - Great Drinks + Amazing People

Episode Teaser

A Little Episode Teaser
Location Guide

A Little More About Each Stop

Limbus Restobar

Touted as "the best view in Peru," Limbus overlooks the city of Cusco, making one of the best places to eat, drink, and enjoy the view. Jo, the restaurant’s owner, is doing some amazing and delicious things with gastro-style cuisine and craft cocktails. The menu is a blend of Peruvian foods with influences from all over the world, while the cocktails are unique, patiently made, and delicious.

Limbus Restobar Website

La Chombra

While chicharias (the name for locations with the chicha drink for sale) are traditionally marked only with red bag tied to the end of a stick over the entrance, it was recommended to me that I try a chicharia that’s a bit more mainstream. So, I ended up at La Chombra.

El Duende

A duende (dew-EN-day) is a mythical being from traditional Peruvian folklore, similar to an elf. It’s basically who you blame if one of your socks goes missing, or if a bottle of your friend’s fine wine that he was saving for a more important occasion than you crashing on his couch is suddenly found empty one morning.

El Duende is also the name of an interesting bar a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Adorned with duende figurines, the pub has a laid back atmosphere and nice food and cocktails including Te Macho which was our drink of choice for the night.

Two Brothers Website

Machu Picchu

Hiram Bingham III, an American explorer, “rediscovered” Machu Picchu and made public the existence of the ancient Incan city in 1911. I read his well-written book before my trip and it made the experience even more impactful.

I suggest getting a guided tour to take you around the citadel to encourage your imagination to bring the city to life. I have less to say about one of the seven wonders of the world than I do about the Kambo ceremony that made me barf. That’s because I’m fine with you reliving the Kambo ceremony through my experiences, but Machu Picchu is something you need to experience yourself.

Machu Picchu Website

 

 

El Museo Del Pisco a.k.a. Pisco Museum

This “Pisco Museum” is more of a cocktail bar than a museum (not that I’m complaining). And I certainly appreciate that they consider the cocktails their canvas and Pisco their paint. The curators (bartenders) at this museum (bar) make fantastic art (cocktails) and boy are they passionate about Pisco! Aside from the delicious national cocktail, the pisco sour, the museum makes a wide variety of Pisco cocktails that worth a taste too.

El Museo Del Pisco Website

Cerveceria Zenith

This little brewery takes up just 900 square feet of space (which includes the taproom) but it’s doing some big things with beer. While Zenith is not the first craft brewery to open in Cusco, it’s the first one to stay open. Like the handful of breweries that came before it, Zenith has faced quite a few challenges such as limited availability of ingredients, the water is has so much calcium that you have to use reverse osmosis to make it usable for brewing and macro-brew has been so dominant, craft brew is a new sell to the locals.

Cerveceria Zenith Website

Hiram Bingham Train

To get from Cusco to Machu Picchu, you can take a train or walk. The train takes three hours and the hike takes three days. As we were on a production schedule and carrying a lot of heavy video equipment, the hike was not a realistic option.

That left us to choose from three trains, with the difference being price and “comfort.” The “most comfortable” option was the Hiram Bingham train, which I thought would look the best in the show. While it did look great, it was a bit opulent and most certainly expensive ($800 per person).

Hiram Bingham Train Website

Now Where Did They Go?
Drink Recipes

Drink What We Drank

Cocaine Cocktail

The specifics of the recipe are a mystery, so you’ll have to go to Limbus Restobar in Cusco to try it. It does call for fresh coca leaves, so, in reality, you may have more success finding the illicit version of this substance than this cocktail. But, as per my observation of this drink being made, the ingredients are Pisco, a concentrate of coca (made into a reduction), fresh pineapple juice, aji limon (a combination of lemon and peppers), house-made simple-syrup, and cinnamon.

Pisco Sour

Ingredients:
1 egg white
Pisco – 2 ounces
Simple Syrup – ½ ounce
Lime Juice – ¾ ounce (or one Key lime)
Angostura Bitters – three dashes
Ice cubes

Instructions:
Fill a cocktail shaker with egg white, ice, Pisco, simple syrup and lime juice.

Shake for at LEAST 10 seconds, but it’s worth shaking for 20.

Strain into a glass (6-8oz), making sure to get the foam into the glass.

Top with three dashes of Angostura bitters.

The wildcard ingredient is the egg white, which it what gives the drink its foam and creaminess. There are other drinks that call for an egg white, like the Ramos Gin Fizz, so it’s not unheard of in the US. But is it safe? Thanks to the invention of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) the answer is a resounding… probably.

 

Te Macho

Té Macho literally translates to “Manly Tea”, because, quite simply, that’s what it is. It’s tea, with entirely too much sugar added to it, along with some citrus, spices and a generous amount of alcohol.

Ingredients:
Black Tea (although any tea will do) – 2 Liters – 3-4 teabags
Limes – 3
Pineapple – ½ pineapple (some slices or a few cubes)
Cinnamon – 2 sticks (or a dissolved teaspoon)
Cloves – 3 (or a dissolved pinch)
Sugar – 5 tablespoons

Instructions:
Make tea in the pot. While simmering, add in the lime juice, pineapple (you can also use apples or other fruits), spices, and sugar. Take the pot off the heat and add in your booze. This drink is served warm/hot, so add in the pisco/cañazo right before serving.

 

 

Chicha

This recipe makes about 2.5 gallons of of corn chicha.

Ingredients:
Fresh Uncooked Corn (cut off the ears) – 2 pounds
Water – 2.5 gallons
Unrefined/Brown Sugar – 2 pounds
Ginger (fresh) 1 ounce
Lime Zest (rind) – 1 Tablespoon

Instructions:
Throw the corn in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor… get a food processor. Ground until coarse, not pulverized. Your objective is to break down the hard hull of the kernel to expose the fleshy part.

Fill a large pot (large enough for 2.5 gallons of water and two pounds of corn) with water.

Transfer the chopped corn to a large pot.

Bring the corn and water to a low boil (just above boiling).

Add in the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, which will happen quite quickly.

Cook uncovered on low boil for 30 minutes.

Cover after 30 minutes and let it chill. Relax with a glass of chicha while the pot chills. Oh, that’s right, you can’t. You don’t have any. That was insensitive. Apologies. Moving on… If you can fill your sink with ice water, this will help to reduce it to room temperature more quickly.

Pour the cornwater through a strainer, or a cheesecloth, or a strainer lined with a cheesecloth, into a large bowl.

Add in the ginger, lime zest and give it a nice stir.

Cover with a cheesecloth, which you happen to have because you used one to strain with. Sweet! Note that your objective with this step is to eliminate the ability for bugs to get in your chicha, yet enable CO2 to escape, so you’re not building up pressure.

Put is aside, inside, out of the sun, at room temperature, for 48 hours. The longer it sits, the more it will ferment, to a point. At some point (48-72 hours), depending on temperature, humidity, variables of the ingredients, it will reach critical mass, meaning no more alcohol will be created. So, it’s best to drink on the 2nd or 3rd day.

Zenith Brewing Beers

Zenith Brewing is always making new brews but we tried some staples and a very special brew:

Imperial Porter made with Peruvian cacao (but you have to ask nicely to get your hands on this one!)

Quinoa Porter

Russian Imperial Stout

 

And What Did They Drink?

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