Jun 2, 7 years ago

A Beverage Tour of Chile

http://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5081550252_30c5e110e1_z1.jpghttp://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5081550252_30c5e110e1_z1.jpghttp://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5081550252_30c5e110e1_z1.jpgA Beverage Tour of Chile

You can tell a lot about a country by its alcoholic beverages and Chile is no exception. A combination of local tastes, available ingredients, and a diverse climate, Chile has created a wide array of wacky concoctions alongside some classics.


Although the French and Spanish brought over grapevines to cultivate hundreds of years ago, Chile has only recently broken onto the international wine scene. Exports have been increasing since the 1980s and Chile is now the world’s fifth largest wine exporter. Although there are pockets of vineyards all over the country, the majority of wine is produced in the Central Valley, a day trip south of Santiago. The Central Valley has four main valleys: Curicó, Maipo, Rapel, and Maule. Similar to the prized wine growing region of Mendoza, Argentina, both valleys rely on the snow-melt from the scenic Andean Mountains. Chile varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carménère, which is in the Cabernet grape family. Most vineyards welcome visitors with tastings and tours. Several well-reviewed companies like Uncorked Wine Tours operate out of Santiago. With incredible ease and access, Chilean wine is not only excellent but also incredibly cheap.

The Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour cocktail

CC Image courtesy of sarahstierch on Flickr

Chileans proudly claim Pisco, a grape brandy, as their national booze. Produced primarily in the Elqui Valley, five-hours north of Santiago, Pisco is the everyman’s drink, including the famous cocktail, the Pisco Sour. This dressed up cocktail includes lemon juice, simple syrup, egg whites, powdered sugar, and of course, Pisco. The drink is shaken vigorously and served in a champagne flute rimed with fine sugar. It tastes quite similar to a margarita, but don’t start drawing those kinds of comparisons in the company of Chileans.


The terremoto, or ‘earthquake,’ comprises of two simple ingredients: white wine and ice cream. Seems innocent enough, but after two or these you’ll be shaky in the legs, hence the name. In its most traditional fashion, Chileans use a young, sweet wine called Pipeño and pineapple ice cream. Yet, when trying this one at home, you can mix any sweet or semi-sweet white wine with your favorite ice cream treat. Nothing fancy– all you need is a hot day and a pitcher.

Colo de Mono

Translated as ‘monkey tail,’ this drink is a Chilean Christmas classic. Taking in the tradition of eggnog, but tasting more like a White Russian, the Colo de Mono is a mix of boiled milk, coffee, whole anise, and rum or Pisco. Like every other Chilean cocktail, this delicious one sneaks up on you and is common at chilly evening asados.


Kunstmann Beer

CC Image courtesy of pviojo on Flickr

Chile boasts a strong German influence and among many cultural traditions, German immigrants brought along their brewing expertise. Chile is an oasis amidst a generally dull beer culture in South America. The craft beer scene is growing in coastal towns like Valdivia and Valparaíso, and even farther south, Cerveza Austral in Punta Arenas. The traditional German heavy hitter brews are from a brewery dubbed, Kunstmann, which boasts a Bock, Pale Ale, Honey, and unfiltered Lager. Thank you, Germany.

The Bizarre

These mixes are tough to wrap your head around, but they end up doing the trick. Combinations you would not consider include the Fanschop, a mix of Fanta orange soda and draft beer and the Jote, or ‘black vulture,’ a mixture of cola and cheap red wine. This one is a page taken from Spain and a common sight in the late hours of a Chilean party. Both end up tasting exactly how you’d expect. As I would personally prefer one element of the other, I say “When in Rome,” I mean, “When in Chile, drink as the Chileans drink.”

Lead Photo: CC Image courtesy of Jameson Fink on Flickr


Ryan is a writer, photographer, and teacher living and volunteering throughout Latin America.

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  1. October 23, 2012
    Wow, great post! I might be one of those people that emliaed you. lol. When I was in the air getting ready to land in Santiago I started freaking out. Not only because I was arriving at 5 in the morning and I was afraid my Spanish was going to suck which it did, I was scared about the city life. I come from a small farming community in Missouri and I didn't know how I would handle it. Needless to say Santiago surprised me. Yes, it is a huge city but as you say you can live a slower-paced life with a looser concept of time. Santiago is so different from any city I would try to describe. I fell in love with it and I've fallen in love with Chile. The culture, the people are just so fun to be around and interact with. I don't know when I'll be back, but I will be back. Thanks for the post Abby, it is very helpful! Besitos desde gringolandia
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