Chuflay is the most typical and popular cocktail of Bolivia.
No need to be an expert mixologist to prepare this thirst-quencher, it’s very simple! Singani, ginger ale, lime and ice cubes. Just make sure to use singani!
What is singani?
It is a wine brandy, that is to say it is made by distillation of wine. In this case, it is made only from Muscat grapes of Alexandria.
How is singani made?
At first, a white wine is produced by fermenting the grapes for about 7 days. Then, as for the cognac, people execute a double distillation or double heating in an alembic. The distillate that is obtained is aged for a year and as its alcohol level approaches 70 degrees, it is necessary to add water to obtain a brandy at 40 degrees.
Singani received the domain of origin (DO) classification and the geographical indication (GI), listing specific zones of production in 1992. It must be produced in southern Bolivia, in specific valleys and provinces of the departments of Potosi, Tarija, Chuquisaca in southern Bolivia and the department of La Paz.
What is the origin of singani?
The production of wine in Bolivia dates from the sixteenth century and started with the arrival of Spanish settlers. At that time, mining was booming, especially in the south of the department of Potosi.
The missionaries who accompanied the conquistadors planted vines, initially to produce their own sacramental wine for the mass because it was too complicated and expensive to bring it from Europe. The plantations then developed with the expansion of the mining towns.
However, the climate of the Bolivian highlands is not really conducive to winemaking. Indeed, the altitude and the strong solar radiation produce a grape that is very concentrated in sugar. In addition, in some areas, heavy rains sometimes prevent the harvesting of grapes at maturity. Under these conditions of culture, you obtain a wine which can not be kept long.
Obtaining a good alcohol by fermentation seemed complicated, which is why distillation was favored and singani was produced and appreciated.
Miners are said to have consumed singani to fight cold and humidity. They were preparing a drink called sucumbé, made up of milk, clove, cinnamon and singani, which they drank very hot.
Since the nineteenth century, singani has been used as a base for Bolivian cocktails such as poncho negro (mixed with cola), yungueñito (with orange juice) and of course the chuflay that we are talking about here.
What is the origin of chuflay?
The origin of chuflay dates back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with the creation and operation of railway lines in Bolivia. At that time, the English expatriates who arrived to build the railways, used to drink gin mixed with ginger ale. Only gin was a rare commodity in the Latin American country, so they replaced the gin with the local spirit, singani.
The English would have named this new cocktail the shoofly, a slang term borrowed from the world of railways and designating temporary rails assembled to cope with emergencies and bypass the obstacle (we can also think that this word was often used in the Andean Cordillera!) Pretty much the use of singani for these foreign workers, who replaced gin because of shortage.
Shoofly was later transformed phonetically by the Bolivians to become the famous chuflay that is served on all occasions in Bolivia.
What is ginger ale?
It is ginger ale that gives the chuflay its quenching and sweet side that makes it so easy to drink. Ginger ale is a soda that is lightly flavored with ginger. It is a very popular drink among Anglo-Saxons who consume it by itself but it is also often used to make cocktails. Ginger drinks are excellent flavor enhancers.
It is believed that the Irish created ginger ale, which was later modified by the Americans. Before, the English invented ginger beer, a fermented drink, unlike ginger ale, less gassy but with a more pronounced taste of ginger.
Italians produce a soda made with ginger, called gingerino, but it can not be confused with the two previous drinks because it contains red dye.
Salud! Cheers !
This recipe is validated by our Bolivian culinary expert, Lizet Flores de Bowen. You can find Lizet on her bilingual food blog Chipa by the Dozen.
- 2 oz. Singani (Bolivian grape brandy)
- 7 oz. ginger ale
- Slices of lime
- Ice cubes
- A few drops of lime juice (optional)
- Ice cubes
- Place two ice cubes at the bottom of the glass.
- Pour the singani, then the ginger ale.
- Add a few drops of lime (optional).
- Add 1 slice of lime into the drink.
- Serve immediately.
It is important to use the authentic Bolivian singani for its incomparable grape taste.