Cocktails & Spirits

Celebrate Peruvian Independence Day Monday at La Mar

In 1821, Peru became the last colony in South America to gain independence from Spain. How best to celebrate, you ask? Why, with food, music, and Pisco, ¡hermanos!

While we know it's hard to disentangle yourself from the comforting arms of classics like tangy ceviche and aromatic lomo saltado, La Mar will serve up a couple of authentic dishes that are worth branching out for.

See also: La Mar: Peruvian Classics Elevated to Haute Cuisine

Starting July 28 and 29, executive chef Diego Oka will offer an Independence Day menu during dinner service from 5:30 to 11 p.m. The first dish, carapulcra ($28), is an Incan stew that's often prepared for weddings, quinceañeras, and other special occasions. The ribs, if cooked right, should be succulent, and the Andean potatoes add body and earthiness. With the addition of aji panca (Peruvian red pepper) comes a kick of heat which mellows out nicely with the help of peanuts and chocolate stew.

The second authentic dish on the menu is aji de gallina, seasoned with aji amarillo (yellow pepper), pecans, potatoes, and olives, served with sweet choclo ($28). Traditionally made with hen, Oka's chicken version does just fine -- the real star of the dish, after all, is the aji amarillo, which is considered the heart and soul of Peruvian cooking. Depending on how it's prepared, the aji can add richness or heat, so be sure to check with your server if you have a sensitive palate.

And because it's Independence Day, you have to drink a pisco sour, the national drink (after Inca Cola) of Peru. Paradoxically, the cocktail was invented by an expat Mormon from Utah named Victor Morris and it became popular during the 1930s at the Hotel Maury in Lima -- go figure.

Like champagne or tequila, Peruvian pisco is an official appellation; it has to adhere to strict production methods and can't be mixed or blended with any other ingredients. Once you (or, you know, the bartender) has the right pisco, the recipe for pisco sour goes something like this:

  • Four parts pisco
  • one part lime
  • one part simple syrup
  • 1 egg white

Shake (or blend) it all together, pour in a glass, and you've got a delicious concoction with a smooth topping of foam, perfect for summer sipping. For an extra dash of authenticity (and fragrance), a few drops of angostura bitters should be added.

To add to the festivities, La Mar will be adorned with colorful Peruvian accents, and live entertainment will be provided by local Peruvian musicians.

¡Viva el Peru!

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Dana De Greff

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