The Cusco Bar Scene

July 15th, 2010

Cusco feels like it has been reborn since the re-opening of Machu Picchu and the end of the tourist dry-spell. Business is booming once again as the hordes arrive in the Inca capital to visit the region’s star attraction. But seeing Cusco’s great archaeological legacy is done during the day… so what’s a visitor to at night?

Cusco night-life never stands still, it continuously re-invents itself. There are always new haunts to check out, and the old ones never fail to draw you back. Despite is location huddled between the high peaks of the Andes far away from the rest of the world, Cusco is a cosmopolitan city with travellers and residents from all over the world. You see this in the streets, the open spaces, the cafes, the restaurants and in the wild night-life – rich diversity, different tastes, foreign and local.

The Cusco Bar Scene

As the light of the sun fades, Cusco’s infinite number of ever more sophisticated bars turn on their lights and open their doors.

Recently inaugurated Piskuo has a terrace with an impressive view of the towers and domes of the city’s tile-clad skyline. Its wide bar and varied wine list make it an obligatory stop at the start of any evening.

El Pisquerito is also a must-visit. Bartender Hans Hilburg will see to your order at the bar. He was Astrid and Gastón’s bartender until he decided to open his own in an old colonial building shared with La Mammacha and cafe Mundo Hemp. His bar stands apart from others in the city thanks to the extraordinary amount of work that has go into each and every one of his creative cocktails. All are made with pisco as the base, of course, but not just any pisco. Here only 8 brands are served, sourced from artisan producers who only produce a limited number of bottles each year. An example is La Chola Picarona, which mixes a combination of pisco acholado with strawberries, Izcucacha mints and catcus seeds. Candela! is another, based on pisco mosto verde mixed with the cream of Peru’s yellow chilli, tangerine and lime juice.

If the cold mountain air is getting too much for you, pay a visit to La Chupiteria, a bar that serves its liquor as hot drinks served in teapots. They also specialize in straight shots!

For those who’d prefer to mix liquor with a slice of pizza or two can also find refuge from the cold nights. Lost City offers a warm atmosphere, a fireplace, pizza and drinks.

It doesn’t matter which street you venture down, there are hundreds of alternatives packed full of people. You could try Bull Frogs and its live music or shoot some pool in Mama Africa, or Mushrooms.

If you’re not the type that needs their beauty sleep, Mithology is open all hours. The sign outside warns “only for gods”, for only gods stand a chance of keeping up with these revellers.

Don’t miss part one: The Cusco Gastronomic Scene

Adapted from an article in Spanish by María Helena Tord for El Comercio. Photos property of their respective restaurants.

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