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!
👩🏻🍳 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! 😆
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
🍹 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! 😆 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. 😉 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).
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?
- 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!
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Chilcano de Maracuya
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- 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
- 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.
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.