Category Archives: South American Cocktails

Mummies, Chagas’ Disease, Drinks, and Dishes

YOU HAVE TO WONDER about the minds of Incas and scientists.

The mummified remains of a  young woman from Peru have been analyzed. According to radioactive carbon dating, the woman died around 600 years ago. They know that she was Incan by the way that her skull was modified. (I can talk about pretty much any sort of disease or bodily fluid, even while eating, but this enforced body distortion absolutely creeps me out. Not fond of looking at the faces of mummies, either, for that matter.)

Why was this particular woman sacrificed? The researchers, guessing from DNA found in her, believe that she had Chagas’ disease and that her poor health probably made her a likely candidate. We therefore have another reason not to get Chagas’ disease: you will be more likely to be the one chosen to get tossed into the volcano or offered up à la Fay Wray, albeit to smaller primates and ones with prehensile tails.


We haven’t put a drink recipe on here in a while, and if you are relying on us  that you are feeling either pretty thirsty or are sick to death of algorobina cocktails and pisco sours.

The Chilcano was invented in honor of Robinson Canó’s attempt to bring béisbol to Chile, a typically fútbol-mad country. MLB, in the face of waning enthusiasm for baseball, was hoping that the Caribbean locura for the beauty of the diamond would spread to the rest of Latin America, and lead a resurgence in what they hope will be not just America’s pastime, but the  Americas’ pastime. Canó, as MVP,  was sent as an ambassador. Peru, of course, was in principle opposed to this gesture, not because of any dislike for baseball, but what they saw as yet another attempt by their southern neighbors to appropriate pisco as their own, when everyone (including the EU)  knows that Pisco es Peruano.

I like the chilcano because it is easy and it is refreshing.

Into a tall glass filled with ice:

  • 1-2 oz. Pisco
  • 4 oz. ginger ale, ginger beer, or other fizzy mixer.
  • Squeeze the juice of 1/4 lime
  • Garnish with a slice of lime.


AND NOW, for the dish:8full-sylva-koscina
Sylva Koscina was an Italian movie actress, born in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (now Croatia). She had a successful career in the ’50s and ’60s, and men of a certain age might remember her playing opposite Paul Newman in the The Secret War of Harry Frigg. She invested all of her wealth in a luxurious villa in Rome, but as her income dwindled, she was forced to sell it in order to avoid a charge of tax evasion.

Ms. Koscina died in 1994, at the age of 61, due to breast cancer.



What To Do with the Leftover Raw Egg Yolks after You’ve Made a Pisco Sour: The Vaina

A letter from Apoteoso: You remember Apoteoso, the kid from Whitefish Bay who got jailed in the Andes sometime in the past? Apparently, he got wind of us using his story here at the Assassin Bug, and was none too happy about it. His parents threatened to have us sued in Milwaukee District Court. (I can tell you we were quaking in our mukluks, notwithstanding their superior insulating qualities.) One of our editors had the brilliant idea of letting Apoteoso write a post or two for us. It seems that being in the spotlight has soothed whatever anger the Arco-Balena family may have had (not that we would ever call writing for the Assassin Bug being in the spotlight).

And what better subject for Apoteoso than mind-altering substances? In deference to alcohol being the drug of choice world-wide, and in trying to keep with the blog’s theme of pairing  South American Cocktail recipes with public health writing, we present you with following recipe. Note also that Apoteoso truly entered the spirit of the blog, finding a way to use public health in his post. He thought he would catch us being hypocritical. We do promise to follow up (yeah, right, just like you promised to follow up on the Zappa post) with a report on egg safety.

Hard time looking tough drinking this one.


Back when you plagiarizing sods gave a recipe for the classic Peruvian cocktail, the Pisco Sour, right?  You oh so cavalierly gave the formula, knowing that your readers would probably rush right out and make their libations from raw egg whites, pasteurized egg whites not being something what readers got on they’re shelves. (They do carry them at the Prospect Avenue Whole Foods in Milwaukee, so I bet they have them elsewhere.) And then as divine karmic comeuppance, the Wright County Egg Salmonella outbreak occurred last summers, and half a billion eggs we’re recalled. Really. I know that I am given to hyperbolly, but this was realllly a half a billion eggs. I don’t know if you guys got sick, but you really should feel responsible if anyone got sick drinking Pisco Sours. anyways, there is always the problem of what to do with the yolks if youve been making stuff with the whites, so here you go (from Andrea’s Recipes):


1-1/2 ounces (45 ml) ruby red port
1 ounce (30 ml) cognac or brandy
1 ounce (30 ml) crème de cacao
3 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
1 raw egg yolk, very fresh
1/3 cup crushed ice
pinch of cinnamon


In the blender, mix the port, cognac, crème de cacao, confectioner’s sugar, and egg yolk with the ice until foamy. Pour into the flute or mini cocktail glasses and garnish with a pinch of cinnamon.

Note from the editors: Of course, use only pasteurized egg yolks.

Found this one in españolo:

No debes usar vino tinto normal, sino vino añejo. No es lo mismo. Con vino tinto corriente debe quedar horrible.
El vermuth no corresponde. Falta la canela molida
Está mal tu receta. No sé qué hiciste, pero no es vaina.

Trata con la siguiente:
50 cc Vino Añejo
30 cc Cognac
30 cc Licor de Cacao
2-3 Cucharaditas de Azúcar Flor
1 Yema de Huevo
Canela en polvo

Mezclar todos los ingredientes (excepto la canela) en una coctelera con hielo. Batir y servir en una copa de sour. Espolvorear canela sobre el trago

Back in the Saddle Again, Curative Cocktail in Hand

¡Hola Argentina!


A fisherman in the Plata Basin-Gran Chaco region


When speaking of South America, I have so far only written about Peru. They are, obviously, very different countries. From the point of view of this blog, the biggest differences are in the poverty levels and in their favorite cocktails (No, I don’t equate them in importance). Argentina had a poverty level of 13.9% in 2009, compared with nearly triple that rate in Peru–36.8%. Argentina has had remarkable success in reducing the rate of Chagas’ Disease to background levels (there are notable exceptions in certain regions of the country, most importantly the Gran Chaco), whereas in Peru there seems to be roadblocks, like less money and lack of political will.

As for cocktails, we’ve already mentioned the Pisco Sour, the national cocktail of Peru. It’s an easy drink to like, and the pisco kind of creeps up on the drinker in gentle way.  Searching for the national cocktail of Argentina, the consensus seems to be that anything mixed with Fernet-Branca, especially Coca-Cola, is considered characteristically Argentine. Fernet-Branca, however, does not come from Argentina. Fernet originated in Milan, from a formula crafted in 1845 by Bernardino Branca. It  uses around 40 different herbs and spices, including myrrh (follow this link for Monty Python’s info on this), chamomile, gentian root and saffron. Italians call it an amaro, meaning bitter, and it was purported to have medicinal qualities, being good for gastrointestinal upset, menstrual problems, hangovers, and cholera, thus allowing me to make this post in good faith on a public health blog. As for these claims being true, you are on your own.


This stuff is horrible. “Acquired taste”  is only true if by acquiring you mean having your taste buds removed. Here are some quotes gleaned from the Internets:


Fernet Branca: the trendy drink that makes you gag. Fernet Branca is an Italian liqueur with a taste so pungent that your first sip has a good chance of making you either want to throw up or wash your mouth out with Pepto Bismol.

From the

Your first sip of Fernet Branca, an Italian liqueur, will be akin to waking up in a foreign country and finding a crowd of people arguing in agitated, thorny voices outside your hotel window.


It is the colour of road tar, smells like hell, tastes worse, and has to be shot straight back, with no hesitation.

I wrote this post after trying to find something out about myrrh, but it led to this. Never having been to the country, Argentines are free to refute my claim that Fernet and Coke is the national drink.


The Algarrobina Cocktail

Kind of like an alcoholic chocolate milk

• 2 oz. pisco
• 2 oz. algarrobina
• 2 oz. milk
• 1 oz. syrup
• 1/4 cacao cream
• egg yolk


In a blender, liquefy all the ingredients with cracked ice. Serve in a cocktail glass.

Algarrobina is a syrup made from the Black Carob (algarrobo) tree. It’s sweet. I’ve seen recipes for this using egg whites instead of yolks, and using as much as 3 oz. of pisco.

A Break from Disease: February 6 is National Pisco Sour Day in Peru

A fine refreshment after a day of searching for assassin bugs

The Pisco Sour is the National Cocktail of Peru.This is a day when all Peruvians, not to mention all visitors should stop and reflect on the importance of the day.

Here is a recipe taken off of the net:


1/4 cup (2 oz.) pisco
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon pasteurized egg whites


In a blender, whirl 3 ice cubes, pisco, sugar, fresh lime juice, and egg whites. Whirl until smooth (you’ll no longer hear the ice cracking against the side of the blender) and serve straight up in a martini glass with a dash of aromatic bitters and a wedge of lime.

If you’re feeling brave you can use regular, rather than pasteurized eggs, but since this is a public health blog there is no way that I can recommend that. Were all the sours I had in Peru made with pasteurized eggs? Hmmmm, maybe that explains something…..