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Algarrobina is the name of this simple and delicious cocktail, sometimes considered a girly drink by men in Peru because of it’s sweetness and creaminess that slightly resembles eggnog. Its name comes from the thick syrup -similar to molasses-, that is extracted from the algarrobo tree, and according to Peruvians this syrup is very good for health, used in natural medicine to heal anemia and to have beautiful, glowing skin. Algarrobina is the secret ingredient that gives this cocktail its lovely caramel flavor.
Algarrobo is a tree native to Peru but that is also found in other parts of the world, and it’s an important component of Peruvian gastronomy. Fairly abundant in the northern part of the country, its wood is used to cook because it adds a particular aroma to food. Its pods are fed to goats to make their meat extra tasty (goat meat is extremely popular in Northern dishes), and the syrup extracted from it is used in countless dishes, but most notably in this delicious flagship cocktail called Algarrobina.
This drink is always served cold and frothy (the reason why it’s made in the blender), and Peruvians drink it at any time of the day, on its own or to accompany a meal. The love for this drink is such that there’s even a national algarrobina day, celebrated on March 15.
Legend says that in Colonial times, the Spanish monks that lived in the city used to make an egg and milk punch with wine. When they started substituting the wine with the same amount of rum, and finally, with some local Pisco, algarrobina was born. These days some bartenders add cream of cacao to the mix, along with some simple syrup or sweetened condensed milk for customers with a sweeter tooth. However, the original cocktail is made with unsweetened evaporated milk, 1 or 2 egg yolks, and Pisco, and then sprinkled with ground cinnamon.
For a great algarrobina use the best Pisco you can find, and try to avoid the fragrant varieties. You will get the best results if you can use a pisco from the Quebranta or Acholado varieties because they have a very neutral taste that will let the syrup shine through.
This recipe appeared in our cookbook, The Peruvian Kitchen, and doesn´t have simple syrup or any extra sugar in it. If you want to make it sweeter feel free to add 1 oz. of simple syrup to the preparation.
- 3 oz. Pisco
- 2½ oz. algarrobina syrup (mesquite or carob)
- 2 oz. evaporated milk
- 1 egg yolk (optional)
- 4 ice cubes
- Ground cinnamon
- Put all the ingredients except the ground cinnamon in the blender, and process for 30 seconds. Serve immediately, sprinkled with a pinch of ground cinnamon.