"Perhaps no country in Latin America is more picturesque than Bolivia." -Nicholas Kristof
Evidence of chiles being an important part of Bolivian cuisine dates back to at least 2500 BCE. The aji panca and locoto chile peppers are two of the most common in Bolivia. Aji panca even has a prominent history with the Inca known to have consumed and used it in their religious practices. Cocalero Negro captures the spirit of these chiles in a tantalizing liquor that is not just some simple riff on Cocalero Clasico.
The Cocalero distillery, in La Paz, Bolivia is the highest distillery in the world at over 12,000 feet. Cocalero Negro features the aji panca and locoto, guarana, and orange peel. With this collection of ingredients that differs significantly from the clasico Cocalero Negro is truly unique.
Cocalero Negro's rich color appears quite similar to that of the dried aji panca and locoto peppers. The dark color creates a mystery of what flavors await. The nose has hints of anise and black pepper. The taste did not disappoint. A sip of Cocalero Negro mingled flavors of chile pepper, cinnamon, and Coca-Cola.
Cocalero Negro can be used in a number of interesting ways. I would recommend substituting it for some medium bodied amari. I also think you might get good use out of it as a replacement for sweet vermouth in some drinks.
THIRST AND HUNGER
Twist on a Classic: Fancy Free
I love the simplicity of a Fancy Free. With only rye, benedictine, angostura bitters and orange bitters, it offered an excellent classic to feature Cocalero Negro. I thought the bite of the rye would pair well with the sweet and spicy of the Cocalero. Cocalero Negro proved a great substitute for benedictine. I added an extra Bolivian flare with the alpaca garnish, the animal in the national seal.
For the drink:
-2 oz rye (Stauning Rye)
-3/4 oz Cocalero Negro
-1 dash Angostura bitters
-1 dash orange bitters
Double rocks glass
Combine the drink ingredients in a cocktail mixer and add ice. Stir for 30 seconds Pour into a glass through a Hawthorne strainer. Garnish.
Something Original: La Bandera Boliviana
I really wanted to make Cocalero Negro the star of this drink. The liquor already had a smooth texture and I thought adding an entire egg would add a creaminess. I worried about the the flavor profile having just a duality of sweet and spicy so I added the lemoncello for a touch of sour. The campari and cocalero clasico mists helped me make the Bolivian flag, or in Spanish, La Bandera Boliviana.
For the drink
-1 1/2 oz Cocalero Negro
-1/3 oz limoncello
-1/2 oz simple syrup
-1 whole egg
Cocalero Clasico mist
Nick & Nora glass
Place your glass in the freezer. Combine the drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice and shake for 40 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 20 seconds. Pour into a glass using a Hawthorne strainer and fine mesh strainer. Mist one third of the drink with Campari and one third with Cocalero Clasico.
Eat Your Spirit: Cocalero Negro Salteñas
I've never cooked a Bolivian dish before so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try something new. Salteñas are a Bolivian classic. They are similar to an empanada. I incorporated Cocalero Negro into the stew that fills the pastry and made a dipping sauce with it. This is one of my favorite dishes I've cooked in a long time.
For the stew filling:
-1/3 cup Cocalero Negro
-2 1/2 oz of chicken bone broth
-2 chicken thighs or breasts
-1/2 vidalia onion
-1/2 red onion
-1 green pepper
-1 red pepper
-1 sweet potato
-3 garlic cloves
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-1 teaspoon pepper
-1 teaspoon coriander
-1 teaspoon Greek oregano
-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-1/4 teaspoon caynene
For the dough:
-3 3/4 cup (450 g) all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons kosher salt
-6 tablespoons sugar
-16 tablespoons unsalted butter
-2 teaspoons annatto powder
-3/4 cup water
For the dipping sauce (good for dipping 2 total salteñas):
-1/2 cup Cocalero Negro
-1/16 teaspoon cayenne powder
-1/16 teaspoon ginger
-1/16 teaspoon cumin
-Pinch of salt and pepper
-Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a Dutch oven and sear the chicken on medium-high heat for 2 minutes and 30 seconds on each side. While the chicken sears dice all your veggies.
-Remove the chicken, add more olive oil and cook onions, garlic, sweet potato, and peppers on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
-Add the seasoning and cook for another 2 minutes.
-Add the bone broth, Cocalero Negro, and chicken to the Dutch oven.
-Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half.
-Remove from the heat and let rest at room temperature with the chicken in the stew for an hour.
-Shred the chicken and add it back to the stew. Then, reserve in the fridge overnight.
-Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar.
-Melt the butter and stir in the annatto powder.
-Add the melted butter to the flour mixture and combine.
-Add the water and work together with your hands.
-Divide the dough into 8 equal sized pieces.
-On a floured surface roll out each dough piece into 7" circles
-Add a dollop of the stew mixture to the center of each dough circle.
-Bring each piece of dough together, as if folding in half. Crimp the dough together.
-Place the salteñas in the freezer for four hours.
-Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Bake for 15-20 minutes. They are done with the dough has hardened and the crimping blackens.
-Start the sauce while the salteñas are cooking
-Add the Cocalero Negro and the spices to small saucepan
-Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until thickened.
BOLIVIA: LA PAZ
This post, like others about regions I have not been to, means this section of the post is a little different. While I have not been to Bolivia, this is an assortment of places I would like to visit and food and drink I want to have.
Things to do:
-The national folklore museum provides a window into Bolivian culture.
-Stay in luxury at the Atix hotel.
-See La Paz from the cable cars that span the city.
-Hike the eerie Valley of the Souls.
-Visit the Witch Market in La Paz.
-Express your artistic side with a vist to the Salar Art Gallery.
-Salar de Uyuni is one of the largest salt flats in the world.
-Bolivia isn't entirely in the Andes, you can visit parts of the Amazon in the country as well.
-Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable body of water in the world and the highest lake in South America.
Places to stay:
-A new mid-centruy modern hotel: Altu Qala
-A gorgeous boutique hotel: Atix Hotel
Food and Drink:
-An internationally renowned cafe.
-The owners of Noma opened a restaurant, Gustu, in La Paz.
-Go vegetarian at Ali Pacha.
-I would have to visit a chic restaurant opened by a former mixologist: Central Restaurant.
-Ona offers modern interpretations of Andean classics.