This unusual chilcano variant includes pisco, star anise (anís estrellado) infused vodka or pisco, ginger beer (or ginger ale), fresh lemon juice, and peychaud's bitters in a light and lively cocktail with a Peruvian vibe!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks (About the Inspiration for This Cocktail)
Do you have a cocktail habit? We certainly do! "Cocktail hour" is a guilty pleasure - mostly on the weekend - and we're always looking for cost-saving ideas.
If you've ever priced liqueurs and infused spirits, you are aware they come at a price. They're easy to make at home in most cases, so I'm beginning to focus on making more of them. Thus far I've made allspice dram for my Winter Old Fashioned, and mole bitters at a fraction of the cost of commercially prepared. AND. They're easy!
As with many of my recipes, the inspiration comes from our Peru travels. While on the road from Cuzco to Capuliyoc, we stopped in Cachora (a slightly larger village) to get drinks and snacks, and purchased a bottle of anise liqueur. I'm a fan of anise and licorice flavor, so this liqueur made quite an impression.
Months later, our youngest son sent me a copy of world renowned Gaston Acurio's Perú. Lo and behold, Acurio has a recipe for a Star Anise Chilcano (Chilcano de Anís Estrella). I was excited to try this and make it my own!
Acurio's cocktail starts with star anise infused pisco. If you're trying to watch your budget, pisco isn't cheap (in the U.S.). I opted to infuse a middle-priced vodka (half the price) with star anise. Not knowing how I would like the infusion, I did a reduced batch. I should have known... it is amazing!
After the vodka was infused for 7 days, we were ready to start playing with the recipe. I prefer ginger beer to ginger ale, so that was a non-negotiable ingredient. I added the star anise infused vodka, a Peruvian pisco (Chile doesn't make pisco!), agave nectar, and fresh lemon juice to the shaker with ice.
Once the pisco mixture is shaken and strained into a rocks glass with a large cube, it gets a few dashes of peychaud's bitters and a thin wheel of lemon. A delicious sipper any time of year!
Are you interested in more unique liquor infusions? See 16 Unusual Liquor Infusions You'll Want to Try!
🍹 Gaston Acurio's Chilcano de Anís Estrella Recipe
- 1 whole star anise (optional garnish)
- 1 tablespoon star-anise infused pisco (below)
- 3 tablespoons pisco
- 1 tablespoon sugar syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ginger ale, to top it off
Star Anise-Infused Pisco (makes 4 ¼ cups)
- 4 ¼ cups pisco (1 liter)
- 9 ounces star anise (250 grams)
🍾 How to Make Star Anise Infused Vodka or Pisco
I think the best approach to making the star anise infused liquor is with a ratio. I used 1.25 ounces of star anise to 2 cups vodka or pisco. Let it steep 7 days, giving it a gentle shake every day.
Why use vodka rather than pisco? Vodka is a neutral spirit - it adds no flavor of its own - making it perfect for infusing. Unless I am in Peru, pisco is rather expensive; I typically pay about $45.00 for a bottle. In Peru, a bottle of good quality pisco can be had for about 28 soles (currently $7.99 USD).
- 2 ounces pisco
- 1 ounce star anise infused liquor (previous section)
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ginger beer
- Peychaud's bitters
🔪 Step By Step Instructions
Make the star anise infused liquor - Whether using vodka or pisco, you'll want to add about 1.25 ounces of star anise to an airtight jar with 2 cups of vodka or pisco. Scale up or down as desired. Steep for 7 days, shaking gently once per day. Strain (I use a fine mesh sieve). Return it to the same container once it is rinsed.
Make the cocktail - Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass. To a shaker ¾ full of ice, add the pisco, infused liquor, agave nectar, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously. Strain over ice. Top with ginger beer. Shake Peychaud's bitters over top as desired, and garnish with a slice of lemon.
💭 Tips and FAQ
- How long will my infused liquor last? If your alcohol is high proof and it is stored in a cool, dark place, it'll be fine for a year... probably longer. Ours never lasts more than a few weeks. For more see Common Mistakes of DIY Infusions.
- Ginger ale or ginger beer? As I mention in the post, Gaston Acurio's recipe calls for ginger ale. I prefer ginger beer because the flavor is more intense. You can use either. You will also find both alcoholic and non-alcoholic ginger beer. My two favorites are Fever Tree (non-alcoholic) and Crabbie's (alcoholic).
🍸 Helpful Kitchen and Pantry Stuff
Star Anise Infused Vodka or Pisco
- 1.25 ounces star anise
- 2 cups vodka or pisco
- Make the star anise infused liquor - Whether using vodka or pisco, you'll want to add about 1.25 ounces of star anise to an airtight jar with 2 cups of vodka or pisco. Scale up or down as desired. Steep for 7 days, shaking gently once per day. Strain (I use a fine mesh sieve). Return it to the same container once it is rinsed.
- Make the cocktail - Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass. To a shaker ¾ full of ice, add the pisco, infused liquor, agave nectar, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously. Strain over ice. Top with ginger beer. Shake Peychaud's bitters over top as desired, and garnish with a slice of lemon.