While on your next trip to South America, relax after a long day of sightseeing at the local watering hole and try some of South America’s famous cocktails! As diverse as the continent’s landscape itself, the drinks you are able to find in each country and region are unique unto themselves and, if you’re anything like me, a fantastic addition to your bartending repertoire. On your next trip to South America, be sure to try these wonderful beverages.
#1 Pisco Sour from Peru & Chile
Pisco Sour is by far one of the most popular south american drinks. This explains why Peru and Chile both claim it as their national drink. While Peru may be the original creators of Pisco – both Peru and Chile offer their own twist on the spirit. Peru maintains a traditional style of distillation, whereby the liquor is bottled directly once the fermentation and distillation is complete, while Chilean Pisco is often aged in oak barrels, giving a unique earthy flavor in comparison to the traditional Peruvian Pisco.
The traditional Chilean Pisco Sour is concocted by combining 1.5 ounces Pisco, 1 ounce lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass, and enjoy.
The traditional Peruvian Pisco Sour is made slightly different – with 1.5 ounces of Pisco, 1 ounce of lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and Angostura bitters. Combine the Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white in a cup with ice, shake vigorously until the texture becomes smooth and frothy, then strain into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a few dashes of Angostura bitters.
Which is better? Try them both and decide for yourself, though I am partial to the Peruvian.
#2 Caipirinha from Brazil
Nothing tops off a day in Brazil like a refreshing, cold caipirinha. Made from the country’s most popular spirit Cachaca, a sugarcane based spirit distilled in Brazil, the caipirinha brings together sweet, citrus, and refreshing in one delicious glass. The national cocktail of Brazil, be sure to try one on your next adventure in Brazil – or make one at home with the following recipe!
To make a caipirinha, slice a lime in half and cut into wedges, place into a pint glass and add 2 tablespoons of sugar (brown sugar is best, though any sugar will work) and muddle. Once well mixed, add 2 ounces of Cachaca, fill the glass with ice, then shake with a shaker tin for a few seconds. Pour the mixture into a rocks glass, garnish with a lime, and enjoy!
Try an authentic Caipirinha on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
#3 Malbec Wine from Argentina
While in Argentina, be sure to try its world-famous Malbecs. The Malbec grape was originally from France, but due to Argentina’s high altitude, cool vineyards, and warm days followed by cool nights, Argentina has flourished in developing its wines and has long since taken over as the reigning king of Malbec. Spend some time in the Mendoza region to truly appreciate the scenic beautify of the vineyards, drink Malbecs, and even go on a winery bike tour where, if you are lucky, the local police will ride behind you to make sure you bike home safe after a day of wine tasting!
Plan your South America Wine Tour Today
#4 Fernet & Coke from Argentina
For a unique Argentine cocktail experience, try the most popular cocktail of the younger ages, a Fernet and Coke. Fernet Branca is an aromatic, bitter digestif, and can take some getting used to. Try one yourself by simply adding 1.5 ounces of Fernet Branca, ice, and top the glass with coca-cola – it may take some getting used to, but definitely worth the effort!
#5 Aguardiente from Argentina
Though not much a cocktail, Aguardiente is the name of a spirit that many countries refer to, but often differentiate in the actual liquor. In Colombia, Aguardiente is an anise-flavored spirit that is distilled from sugarcane, similar to Ouzo, and is typically drunk neat out of a shot glass. Black-licorice lovers rejoice, others beware as this drink is typically a love it or hate it beverage.
Ecuador also has a spirit referred to as Aguardiente, which also is distilled from sugarcane, but it lacks the anise flavoring that Colombia maintains. Typically, Ecuadorians will either drink the Aguardiente straight, or in a canalezo (a concoction of fruit juice, hot water steeped with cinnamon, and Aguardiente). Try Aguardiente in each country you see it on the menu and judge for yourself who does it best!
#6 Coffee from Colombia
In Colombia, be sure to try some sure to be amazing coffee out of the many coffee plantations in the region.
Enjoy incredible coffee on our Colombia Coffee Region Tour.
#7 Yerba Mate from Argentina & Uruguay
In Argentina and Uruguay, try drinking Yerba Mate out of the traditional gourd with a bombilla – traditionally a shared experience among friends.
#8 Coca Tea from Peru & Bolivia
if you are in the high altitude areas of Peru and Bolivia, be sure to try Coca tea which is believed to aid in preventing altitude sickness.