Chilcano Cocktail

The Chilcano Cocktail

By Sina / Last updated on September 17, 2022 
The Chilcano Cocktail is a traditional Pisco drink. In addition to the national spirit of Peru and Chile, it contains lime juice and ginger ale.

There are very few traditional Pisco drinks, only four to be precise, and the Chilcano Cocktail is one of them.

Although the name somehow suggests that the cocktail has its origins in Chile rather than in Peru, it is actually the other way around.

The concoction with lime and ginger ale is a Peruvian tradition of serving Pisco. And it goes back a long way.

Ingredients of the Chilcano de Pisco

The Chilcano de Pisco is best described as a cross between a mule cocktail and a sour cocktail.

It takes the lime and the ginger from the classic Moscow Mule and the Pisco and the Angostura bitters from the Pisco Sour.

Which Pisco for the Chilcano Cocktail?

As this drink is a Peruvian classic, opting for a Pisco from Peru rather than Chile goes without saying. 

To be fair, the Chilcano works with both types, but Peruvian Pisco is the traditional choice, and you can definitely taste the difference. 

Chilcano de Pisco

If you want to know more about the grape spirit, its origin, and the different types, read this guide about Pisco.

If you're new to Pisco and look for a recommendation regarding the best choice for cocktails, go for BarSol or, if you can get it, Cuatro Gallos.

Ginger Ale

Ginger ale is a non-alcoholic, carbonated, sweet, and slightly spicy soft drink. It is considered a traditional bitter lemonade alongside bitter lemon and tonic water. 

Don't confuse ginger ale with ginger beer, as the taste is quite different. Ginger ale is sweeter and less ginger-forward than the - also non-alcoholic- ginger beer.

Bitters were not part of the traditional version of the Chilcano, but they are common now and elevate the overall taste.

Angostura Bitters in the Chilcano Cocktail

Angostura bitters have a highly concentrated, intense bitter but also herbal and spicy taste. You only need a couple of drops to bring complexity and a new flavor dimension to your drinks.

If you don't have these bitters in your home bar yet, do get them. They really make a difference and are vital for many other cocktail classics like the Martinez, the Dark 'n' Stormy, the Singapore Sling, and many more.

lime juice

Lime juice in cocktails should always be freshly squeezed. When you follow this simple rule, you improve the taste of your drink considerably. 

History of the Chilcano Cocktail

The Chilcano dates back sometime between the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. It's a drink of the people, not one created in a bar by mixologists.

Brought by Italian immigrants

When the Italians migrated to Peru and founded colonies, they brought their customs and traditions with them. 

One of these traditions was an alcoholic beverage made with grappa and ginger ale, which they called Buon Giono - Good day in English.

When the Italians ran out of Grappa, they discovered Pisco. Since both spirits are based on grapes, they replaced their Grappa with the South American spirit.

Chilcano with Italian origin

Apart from the grape base, the spirits don't have much in common, though. Pisco is way smoother than Grappa, which usually has a harsh bite to it.

So it's no wonder that Pisco became a fixture in the cocktail and this new version quickly conquered Peru's capital, Lima.

Origin of the name

Over time, the new version of the cocktail also got a new name. Because its color is similar to a traditional Peruvian fish broth with the name Chilcano de Pescado it soon became known as Chilcano de Pisco.

Since 2010 people in Lima have celebrated Chilcano Week each year in January. Among other things, you can do tastings, food pairings, and the like.

Other Pisco cocktails

Apart from the Chilcano, there are only a few more traditional Pisco Cocktails like the El Capitan and the Pisco Punch.

But you can substitute Pisco for other base spirits in various classic drinks and tweaks of them like the Grapefruit Pisco Collins

And here, you can find all our favorite Pisco Cocktails

Chilcano Cocktail Recipe

Chilcano Cocktail

A refreshing and spicy Peruvian classic made with Pisco and Ginger Beer.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Peruvian
Keyword: bitters, ginger, lime, Pisco
Servings: 1
Calories: 218kcal
Cost: $3.10

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Peruvian Pisco
  • 0.5 oz lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 drops Angostura bitters
  • 3.5 oz Ginger Ale

Instructions

  • Add ice, Pisco, and lime juice into a cocktail glass and stir well.
    2 oz Peruvian Pisco, 0.5 oz lime juice, 2 drops Angostura bitters
  • Top the drink up with ginger ale and gently stir again.
    3.5 oz Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a lime wedge.

Nutrition

Serving: 6oz | Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.6g | Protein: 0.06g | Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 19mg | Sugar: 10.6g | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.24mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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