Yes, it’s a day early, but tomorrow is 28 de julio, or Perú’s Independence Day. It was on this day in 1821 that Perú broke away from Spanish rule, and ever since then, Peruvians around the world celebrate with plenty of pisco and pollo a la brasa. In honor of my ancestral nation’s independence (and because I’m too frantic studying for a Bordeaux exam to write an original post), I give you an oldie but a goodie – a previously published post about my first foray into mixology: The Caipirinka. Try it – I think you’ll enjoy it. And, ¡Que viva el Perú, carajo!
Variety, chicas y chicos, is the spice of life, so to add a little sabor to your weekend, it is my supreme pleasure to introduce my latest invention…the Caipirinka. It’s a refreshingly exotic blend of mangoes, lime and pisco.
Yep, it’s like the Brazilian Caipirinha but with a two-fold Peruvian twist: 1). Pisco is the national drink of Perú*, and 2). Mangos grow happily in Perú. And of course, there’s 2a: Señorita Vino’s parents hail from the land of the Incas.
If you’re not familiar with pisco, it’s a clear alcoholic spirit made from grapes. Some say it’s comparable to Italy’s grappa and Greece’s ouzo. And like grappa and ouzo, pisco can knock you flat on your asti spumante, so be forewarned: un poquito goes a long way.
Adding to the Caipirinka’s uniquely Peruvian flair is the mango. Perú is one of six countries that exports mangos to the U.S. The mangos I used to make the Caipirinka were generously provided by the Mango Board, which probably had no idea I’d use them to make an alcoholic beverage.
But if anyone’s keeping track, this is arguably the world’s most nutrient-rich cocktail. Mangos contain more than 20 different types of nutrients and vitamins, and just one cup of mangos is 100 calories and provides 100% of your recommended vitamin C allowance. See? Señorita Vino cares muchísimo about the health (and girlish figures) of her readers.
I used fresh, pureed ataulfo mangos, the oblong, bright yellow fruit in the photo above. ¿Porqué ataulfo? Because this variety has no fibers and is as smooth as butter, making it a great option to blend in cocktails or fruit smoothies. Not only that, but the flesh is gloriously golden, calling to mind the gold treasure of the Inca empire. Now there’s a culture that literally worshipped its bling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
So without further ado, here’s how you can add a little Inca gold to your Peruvian Independence Day celebration. Because we all have different palates (See “Vino 101”), you may want to adjust the amount of sugar, lime or pisco. If you do up the pisco content, Señorita Vino takes no responsabilidad if you wake up in an exotic land, covered in gold sequins and tropical bird feathers. ¡Salud!
*There is some debate between Perú and Chile as to which country ‘invented’ pisco. It was Perú, of course (see 2a above).
Señorita Vino’s Caipirinka
1 cup of ripe Ataulfo mangos (about 2), cubed
6 tablespoons of sugar syrup (make ahead: Dissolve 8 tablespoons of baker’s sugar into 8 tablespoons of water in a pan over low heat. Bring to a boil, then boil for 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge).
8 ice cubes, cracked
4 key limes (or 2 regular limes), cut into small wedges. Save a few slices as a garnish, if desired.
4 teaspoons raw cane sugar, divided
4 ounces of pisco
3 additional ice cubes, cracked
In a blender, place the 8 cracked ice cubes, the mango and the sugar syrup. Blend until the mango is completely liquefied. Set aside. Place an equal amount of lime wedges into four small glasses. Add a teaspoon of raw cane sugar to each glass. With a muddler (see photo) or wooden spoon, crush the lime and sugar until it forms a paste.
Place the remaining three cracked cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add 2/3 cup of the mango puree and the pisco and shake until condensation forms on the shaker.
Pour immediately into the cocktail glasses. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.