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Chilcano de Maracuya

Cool, light, and refreshing… Chilcano de Maracuya (a Pisco and passionfruit cocktail) features Peru’s beloved Pisco, fragrant maracuya (aka passionfruit or passion fruit), ginger ale or ginger beer, and a few drops of bitters. This one is perfect on a hot summer’s day!

Chilcano de Maracuya in highball glasses with fresh mint sprigs on a green leaf tray with ice cubes.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Peru and Cocktails

It’s pushing the century mark, and you need a cold, refreshing adult beverage, but you don’t want just another gin and tonic? This thirst-quenching cocktail goes down so easily, you’ll have to watch yourself!  ๐Ÿ˜†

It’s a variant on the classic Peruvian Chilcano de Pisco… the passionfruit pulp replaces the lemon or lime juice in the classic cocktail. I think you’ll find it’s quick and easy to make as well.

A traditional Peruvian chilcano uses ginger ale, but I tend to use ginger beer (can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic) instead. I love the stronger ginger flavor!

I still find myself looking back at our month in Peru with longing. It may be awhile before I “move on,” so thanks for indulging me for a time. Cuzco introduced me to chilcanos. Prior to Cuzco, I’d never even heard the word. Pisco sours, yes, chilcanos, no.

Literally our first stop upon arriving in Cuzco (after dropping our bags at Hostel Corihuasi) was a hike down the steep cobblestone street to the Museo del Pisco. Translate from Spanish to English –> Pisco Museum.

IN the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But after such hard work, he was thirsty. And thus could think of nothing better than to create the grape and, from its fruit, make a fine spirit. He called it PISCO. And he saw that it was good. And it became the elixir of other gods. Later, he continued to entertain himself creating the animals, plants and the rest of the world.

When it is proclaimed in Peru that God is Peruvian, it’s no joke; actually, it is a popular saying which people take very seriously. And when it is claimed that pisco is Peruvian, it’s viewed as an undeniable and irrefutable fact, based upon historical evidence. Today, Pisco is Peru’s flagship drink and a spirit that continues to gain more international fans every day. Cheers!

Museo del Pisco website
Inti Raymi crowds on the Plaza de Armas from a second floor balcony.
A look down at the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin during Inti Raymi (Quechua for Sun Festival)…

Steep cobblestone steps in Cuzco near our hostel.
A small section of cobblestone steps in Cuzco we climbed at least a couple of times each day… In addition to being a city literally in the clouds, it’s steep too! We walked an average of 5 miles per day while in Cuzco!
The patio of a favorite brewpub Qosqo in Cuzco with a steep hillside in the background.
The building in the foreground was one of our favorite stops… Qosqo (Quechua spelling for Cuzco), a craft beer pub with amazing trout ceviche!
A fruit smoothie stall in the San Pedro market in Cuzco.
One of the prime attractions at the San Pedro Market was the fresh juices and smoothies… I had a maracuya (of course!), pineapple, and banana smoothie. This lovely woman broke down the fruit while we waited. You can’t get much fresher
A typical street scene in Cuzco.
A typical street scene… colorful textiles, clothing, jewelry, street food (beware!), babies on their mommas’ backs. It was always lively!

🍹 What is Pisco?

Pisco is a colorless or light yellow to amber colored brandy (a liquor distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice). It is made from grapes grown in Peru. Chileans may lay claim to pisco, but do not listen!  ๐Ÿ˜† While cognac – also a brandy – needs to be aged in oak barrels, pisco must not be.

One of the key regulations governing Peruvian pisco is that it cannot be aged in wood at all. Pisco must be made in one of five coastal valley regions of Peru, including Ica, Lima, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna. It may be made up of a combination of 8 unique grape varietals, each lending its own characteristics to the end product. For more on pisco, see The Complete Guide to Pisco.

🥭 About Chilcano de Maracuya

The Pisco Sour is Peru’s best-known cocktail. I particularly enjoyed a variant on the Pisco Sour – the Coca Sour. Yes, the pisco is infused with coca leaves. Yes, coca is completely legal in Peru.

We’ll save the topic of coca for another day.  ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, I had some issues with nausea (probably due to altitude and food choices), and the Chilcanos section on the drink menus suddenly seemed more appealing than the heavier pisco sours made with frothy egg whites. Chilcanos, as mentioned at the beginning, are made with ginger ale (my favorite mixer).

Chilcano de Maracuya in 2 glass highballs with mint sprigs on a green leaf platter with ice.

I’ve been a fan of maracuya since our Peruvian friend Sirena introduced us to maracuya pie. You may remember a trio of Tropical Margaritas, my favorite being the maracuya?

📋 Ingredients

  • crushed ice
  • Pisco – It does not need to be “top shelf” Pisco.
  • maracuya (passionfruit) pulp/juice – I rarely use fresh passionfruit as they’re quite expensive in McAllen, and the pulp works just as well. I use this passionfruit pulp.
  • ginger ale or ginger beer – You can use either, but the ginger flavor is more pronounced in ginger beer. It’s your choice!
  • 3-4 drops angostura bitters
  • basil or mint to garnish

🔪 Step by Step Instructions

This simple and straightforward drink comes together like this:

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Add 3 ounces of good pisco, and 2 ounces strained maracuya pulp. Shake vigorously.
  • Strain into highball glass half full of ice. Top with ginger ale or ginger beer.
  • Lastly, sprinkle a few drops of angostura bitters, and garnish with mint or basil. As I said, it’s so refreshing, you’ll need to watch how fast it goes down!

💭 Tips Variations and FAQ

  • I can’t find passionfruit! – I actually couldn’t get fresh passionfruit at my market when I went to work on this cocktail. Fortunately, Goya Foods has frozen maracuya pulp with NOTHING ADDED! I prefer cocktails that are NOT sweet, and I certainly didn’t want any high fructose corn syrup in this one. It worked great! You probably don’t want to substitute passionfruit canned or bottled juice because of the high fructose corn syrup. I would prefer to use the fresh pulp with seeds removed, but the frozen was a fine substitute.
  • What is the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer? Ginger ale is a non-alcoholic mixer with a hint of ginger. Ginger beer is very ginger-forward, and comes in both non-alcoholic and alcoholic versions. As this cocktail uses a good amount of pisco, I typically use the non-alcoholic ginger beer. I actually love a light ginger beer with fewer calories.
  • Is there a substitute for pisco? Not in “my book.” Brandy would be the closest spirit, and with the other ingredients, you’ll still have a similar cocktail.
  • My son – a bartender in his previous life – suggested substituting rum for the pisco as a “dark and stormy” variation. I think it sounds awesome. Let me know if you try it!

If you like the flavor profile of a chilcano (and you like licorice), don’t miss my star anise chilcano… Check out these Latin-inspired cocktails if you love cocktails and are looking for inspiration. I hope you’ll give this refreshing, tropical cocktail a try!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

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Chilcano de Maracuya

Chilcano de Maracuya

Cool, light, and refreshing… Chilcano de Maracuya features Peru’s beloved pisco, fragrant maracuya (aka passionfruit or passion fruit), ginger ale, and a few drops of bitters. This one is perfect on a hot summer’s day!
4.75 from 16 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Beverages
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 367 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • crushed ice - (to fill highball glass)
  • 3 ounces pisco
  • 2 ounces maracuya - passionfruit pulp/juice
  • ginger ale - (I like Fever Tree or Hansen’s)
  • 3-4 drops angostura bitters
  • basil or mint to garnish

Instructions

  • Fill highball glass with crushed ice.
  • Add pisco, maracuya, and ginger ale. Stir well.
  • Add a few drops of bitters, and garnish with mint or basil leaves.

Notes

Pisco Portón is a brand widely available in the U.S. market. We enjoyed the Biondi that we picked up in Cuzco. 
You can use either ginger ale or ginger beer. Hansen’s all natural soda has a really nice flavor.
3 ounces is a good amount of pisco, and the drink doesn’t taste strong. Proceed carefully!

Nutrition

Calories: 367kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

🍸 More Pisco-Based Cocktails

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20 Comments

  1. I enjoyed my Chilcano while reading your passionate comments about Cuzco. I mentally traveled there thanks to you. Cheers- Salud!

    1. Thank you for sending the link, and politely correcting me. I always want to respect this country that has stolen my heart! In fact, we are in Peru (Pisac) currently. We made our second visit to Lima over last weekend before flying to Cuzco. I will find a way to correct my post, and my sincere apologies!

  2. What a gorgeous cocktail! It is SO hot here – I wish I was sipping on this!

  3. Yummy, that looks beautiful and delicious! I’ve never heard of pisco but I want to find some and make this drink real soon! It was fun to look at all of your photos! What fun you must have had.

    1. Thank you Allison! We’ve not been under 100 degrees in south Texas for awhile, and that kind of heat makes a chilcano pretty appealing ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you Elaine! Pisco is becoming more available in the US for sure… I’m not sure about other countries. It is versatile in a cocktail, and I think you’d really enjoy this one!