There’s both an old and a new travelers’ cliche about how Santiago stacks up against the other major cities on the continent.
The old was that Chile’s capital was “underrated” compared to its cosmopolitan counterpart Buenos Aires, or the glittering beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The new: Santiago has stepped onto the world stage — and it’s loving the spotlight.
The city is buzzing on so many levels, embracing the best the world has to offer and reinventing its traditions. It’s happening in music — with Chile welcoming the biggest bands on the planet while exporting some of its hottest new prospects — as well as in cinema, design and gastronomy.
Now the country’s signature cocktail, the humble pisco sour, is undergoing its own transformation.
Though the origins of the cocktail — centered around pisco, a grape-based liquor — may be disputed between Chile and Peru, the recipe for a Chilean pisco sour is not: pisco, lemon juice and sugar are the staple ingredients of this simple and refreshing trago.
And with Spring in the air and the sun out in Santiago, now is the time to make the rounds and try the latest takes on this Chilean classic. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
This restaurant and bar in burgeoning Barrio Italia has cemented its reputation as one of Santiago’s hippest place to dine. Murals and polished oak give flair to its chic ambient indoors, while outdoor tables offer a place to soak up the sunshine. Try a range of exotic sours which include papaya and mango, and come with additions such as basil and merken.
El Ají Amarillo
With two locales in Providencia, El Ají Amarillo bills itself as “The Cave of Artisanal Pisco,” and with over 40 options it is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of pisco experimentation. This is the place to sample both Chilean and Peruvian piscos, including blueberry, passion fruit and lucuma.
If any single bar and restaurant represents Santiago’s global outreach it could well be Étniko. A fusion restaurant which combines the best of Asian, African, European and American cuisine, Étniko is sleek and stylish — and its cocktails are from another planet. Among a creative list of out-there cocktails, a must try is the grapefruit sour.