You may already know, Chile produces excellent wines with a growing reputation every year. Our quest for authentic food in Chile took us across the entire country. From the coast to the Atacama desert, discovering the local foods and the popular drinks in Chile.
In this article, we put a spotlight on 6 unique Chilean drinks you must try for a local experience.
Are you ready to drink like a Chilean? Let’s go…
1. Mote con Huesillo – Traditional Chilean Drink
One of the most typical Chile drinks you will find throughout the country is Mote con Huesillo. This drink has a long history dating back to the colonial time period, and the tradition continues today. Drinking mote con huesillo is a popular way to quench your thirst during the hot summer months.
Mote con Huesillo, roughly translates to peaches with wheat. This drink is made from husked wheat (mote) and dried peaches (huesillo) soaked with sugar water and cinnamon to make a sweet, non-alcoholic drink. This is one of the most popular traditional Chilean non-alcoholic drinks.
You can find this Chilean drink everywhere from restaurants, parks, at street fairs or sold by street vendors. This beverage is so popular, that there’s even a saying for it, “Más chileno que el mote con huesillo,” which translates to mean “More Chilean than a mote con huesillo.” This refers to the distinctive national pride of this famous traditional Chilean drink.
We first tried this drink at a local fair in the South of Chile, and again on the streets of San Pedro de Atacama. We found it refreshing, though a bit odd with the softened wheat. The sweetened syrupy juice from the dried peaches gave it a delicious flavor that we both enjoyed.
The best part about mote con huesillo is that it is a drink that you can eat as well.
2. Carménère – The Emblematic Wine
Carménère is the emblematic wine of Chile, much like Malbec is to Argentina. The Carménère vines were imported into Chile from Bordeaux in France. In 1867, after the Phylloxera plague wiped out most of the vineyards of Europe the Carménère was considered extinct. It was only rediscovered in Chile in the mid-1990s after being mistaken for Merlot. See this great guide for more about Carménère.
We first tried Carménère in the wine regions of Maule Valley and Maipo Valley. Maule Valley is where Chile’s first vines were planted in the 16th Century. This article highlights vineyard visits to wineries in Maule Valley.
Maipo Valley, located in the Central Valley is where many of Chile’s top red wines come from. We tasted Carménère at several vineyards in this valley. Our article, discovering Chile wines of Maipo Valley goes into more detail.
Deep in color, this red wine is soft and rounded. It has floral aromas as well as berry flavors with hints of smoky tobacco. Carménère is one of the most delicious Chilean drinks that you should not miss!
3. Borgoña – Local Chilean Punch
Borgoña is a popular punch prepared with red wine and ripe strawberries. It comes from the Central Valley, Chile’s most productive and internationally renowned wine region.
The Borgoña drink is typically prepared with Carménère, the iconic Chilean red wine. Strawberries are mixed with the wine and strawberry pieces are added to infuse into the newly made punch. Sugar is sometimes added depending on taste preferences.
You will find Borgoña at street fairs, restaurants or bars in Chile. This is a refreshing drink, that resembles the sangria for the sweetness, though the taste is much more on the berry side.
Be warned, Borgoña is very easy to drink and the portion servings are large. With the mix of sugar and wine, you’ll find yourself tipsy quickly. Watch out!
4. Chicha – Traditional Independence Day Drink
Chicha is a sweet wine typically made from fermented grapes or apples. It is one of the most traditional Chilean drinks consumed on Chile’s National Day also referred as fiestas patrias.
This holiday is celebrated on September 18th and marks the beginning of independence from Spain. On this day, Chile’s President will make a toast with Chicha during the military parade. It is not common to find this Chilean drink outside of this period, and you may need to search for it.
We had the chance to try Chicha made with grapes at Boragó restaurant in Santiago, ranked as the top restaurant in Chile in 2017. Our visit to Boragó was to explore local Chilean cuisine with the chef, Rodolfo Guzmán.
We tried Chicha after a couple glasses of wine and we found it very easy to drink. Maybe our taste buds were already tainted. While sweet, not as sweet as a dessert wine.
This is one of the Chilean drinks we would not mind trying again. One of best parts about the experience was drinking it out of the traditional horn called cacho de chincha.
Don’t miss this typical drink of Chile on your travels to Santiago.
5. Terremoto – Unique Local Chilean Drink
Another one of the unique and local Chilean drinks is Terremoto. It is not found everywhere but should be on your list to try when you visit Chile.
Terremoto literary means “Earthquake” since you are left with the ground and legs feeling very shaky. The terremoto drink consists of pineapple ice-cream, mixed with a sweet, fermented white wine called Pipeño and grenadine.
The story behind this famous Chilean drink is interesting. Legend has it that a few days after the earthquake of 1985, a group of German reporters came to Santiago to report on the damages caused by the earthquake.
The group ordered pipeño wine and found it almost undrinkable. They asked the waiter to sweeten it and he added pineapple ice-cream. When they tried it, they supposedly said Esto sí que es un Terremoto (This truly is an earthquake) due to how strong it was and the name stuck ever since.
We tried this drink in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile on a hot sunny afternoon. Having spent the day discovering the incredible landscape of Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), we were in need of something refreshing.
When the drink was served, we were surprised to see it clearly broken up out into levels. The grenadine and mixture at the bottom and the ice-cream floating on top.
After stirring it and mixing it together, we took the first couple of sips. Despite being strong and sugary, it was surprisingly quite refreshing. Rosemary enjoyed this drink much more than Claire. However, she was careful to keep drinking water in between sips.
The Germans were not far from the truth. Terremoto is strong and can leave you shaking at the knees!
6. Pisco Sour – Chile’s Famous Cocktail
Pisco Sour is the famous cocktail also known as Chile’s National Spirit. Peru also has its own version of Pisco Sour that is also considered the national beverage.
Although Chile and Peru dispute the origins of Pisco Sour, the way each country makes it is quite different and worth exploring.
In Chile, Pisco Sour is made from Chilean Pisco brandy, lemon from Pica, sugar, and ice. In the Peruvian Pisco Sour, egg whites, bitter drops, and more sugar is usually added.
There are also significant differences in the way the Pisco brandy is made. In Chile, the Pisco brandy is aged in oak barrels which is not the case for Peruvian Pisco. You can read more about how Pisco is made in Peru, at one of the oldest Pisco wineries.
You will find Pisco Sour served at restaurants and bars across the country. We enjoyed the taste of Chilean Pisco Sours and found them smooth and easy to drink.
This typical drink in Chile is great to enjoy prior to dinner. Be sure not to miss it on your travels to Chile.
If you are interested in learning more about Chilean Pisco and Pisco Sour, this article from The Chicago Reader which goes in-depth into finding the perfect Pisco Sour.
Chilean drinks are as unique and diverse as the food you’ll find throughout the country. Some of the typical Chilean drinks you’ll see everywhere, while others you may need to dig for.
By seeking out these 6 famous Chilean drinks, you will elevate your experience from being a tourist to being a local, immersed in the local food and drinks culture.
However, if you are going to try all of these Chilean drinks, you’ll need some food to keep you going. Be sure to check out our article about the 10 popular Chilean dishes worth trying.
Eat and drink like a local in Chile and savor your local and authentic food experiences.
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Alternatively, you can search below and find affordable accommodations in Santiago, Valparaiso, San Pedro de Atacama, and more.
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Rosemary is a writer and culinary explorer. Together with her partner, Claire, they created Authentic Food Quest to inspire people to travel deeper through authentic food. Through food, they believe, people can have more meaningful connections on their travels. Prior to creating Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary worked as a director of strategy in advertising for over 15 years. Take the quiz and find out your Food Traveler Profile.