Chilcano Cocktail Recipe

By Sina Torner / Last updated on June 30, 2023

The Chilcano Cocktail is a pisco drink that dates back over 100 years. In addition to the national spirit of Peru and Chile, it contains lime juice and ginger ale.
Chilcano Cocktail with lime and ginger ale

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

Quick Facts Chilcano Cocktail

  • Method: built in glass
  • Flavor profile: spicy, mild
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Glassware: highball glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 11% ABV, 19 grams of alcohol per serving

The concoction with lime and ginger ale is a Peruvian tradition of serving pisco. 

Chilcano Cocktail Recipe

Chilcano Cocktail

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

Equipment

  • 1 Bar spoon
  • 1 Jigger

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: 6ozCalories: 218kcalCarbohydrates: 11.6gProtein: 0.06gFat: 0.02gSodium: 8mgPotassium: 19mgSugar: 10.6gVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 6mgIron: 0.24mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients of the Chilcano de Pisco

Ingedient-wise, the Chilcano de Pisco is a cross between a mule 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.

  • Pisco: since this drink is a Peruvian classic, we opt for Peruvian pisco rather than Chilean. However, both work, to be fair. We can recommend 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 it with ginger beer.
  • Bitters: 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, get them. You can use them in dozens of classic cocktail recipes.
  • Lime juice: Citrus juice in cocktails should always be freshly squeezed. When you follow this simple rule, you improve the taste of your drink considerably. 

Best Practises

For the perfect Chilcano Cocktail, you should use large, clear ice cubes to avoid that your drink will water down too quickly. With a relatively low ABV, you also don't need extra dilution.

Use a fresh or only recently opened ginger ale to get that refreshing fizz - if your mixer is stale, your drink will be a disaster. Stir only very gently once you have filled your glass with the soda to keep the carbonation.

Also, make sure it is straight out of the fridge and ice cold when pouring it. In fact, since you build the Chilcano directly in the glass, all ingredients should be chilled. Best, put your pisco in the freezer for a while before mixing.

Chilcano de Pisco

History of the Chilcano Cocktail Recipe

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.

When the Italians emigrated 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 Giorno - 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.

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.

Why is it called Chilcano?

Over time, the new version of the cocktail also got a new name. Because its color is similar to a traditional Peruvian fish broth called 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:

But you can substitute other base spirits in various classic drinks for Pisco and create twists of them. Here, you can find all our favorite Pisco Cocktails

More about Pisco

Pisco is one of South America's top spirits for cocktails and mixology. It's a brandy made from grapes that can be either clear-colored or have an amber shade. Its origin lies in Peru or Chile - the dispute has been going on for ages.

It tastes a little fruity and sweet, and if you have a quality pisco in front of you, it will have a smooth mouthfeel. Some brands also offer slightly herbaceous notes. 

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

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