By Catie BrandlAsk a Peruvian or a Chilean about the origins of Pisco and you’re bound to get two different answers. In these two countries there is constant controversy over who started making this spirit, made from distilled grapes. Not only the origins, but the discussion of “Who has better Pisco?” is continual. Well, now you at least don’t have to worry about bickering. You can find out for yourself.
Chipe Libre – Republica Independiente del Pisco is the new project from the owners of Santiago favorites like BocaNaríz, Castillo Rojo, and Uncle Fletch. Housed in the former Gatopardo space across from Biografo theater, look for the CHPE sign, which perfectly pairs the two countries together, with a clever turn of phrase. A ‘chipe libre’ is sort of like a hall pass, slang for casual relations with an extra partner. Don’t worry, they won’t tell. Inside, you don’t need to feel pressured if you prefer Chile or Peru. This is its own country, a one of a kind restaurant and bar dedicated to Pisco, an ideal place to learn about and compare this spirit.With over 68 Piscos to choose from, the menu can be a little daunting, but the educated and friendly staff serve as a guide. Standard mixers like ginger ale, tonic water, and Coca Cola are available. A nice change up to normal Pisco are the macerados, which are Pisco infusions made in house. Currently, CHPE offerS cinnamon, red fruits, huacatay (Peruvian mint-like herb), hot chili pepper, and coca leaf, macerados, which go great solo or with tonic water. If you want to best understand the differences in Pisco, you can ask for tastings, which are kind of like shots, served in fancy Pisco glasses that aren’t meant for chugging. This is where you can taste and smell the distinction.
For those who aren’t concerned with checking out the differences in Piscos there are more options. CHPE offers an extensive list of pisco cocktails as well. Fresh herbs are used in many, like the Capitan Grau, similar to a Pisco sour mixed with rosemary. The Contrabando has ginger and thyme, a perfect refreshment to quench your thirst in the impending summer heat. Be careful though if you’re not a big sweet-drink person, as some of the drinks tend to cater to a sweeter Chilean palate, so be sure to ask. If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, don’t worry, CHPE doesn’t discriminate. Since the owners also have the first wine bar in Santiago next door, Bocanaríz, customers will find a great wine list and full bar.
When it comes to food, the entire menu is tailored towards Pisco, of course. Chef Cristian Gaete brings an infusion of homemade Peruvian-Chilean cuisine, featuring dishes like ceviche, anticuchos, morcilla with charquican, and other favorite dishes from both countries. A variety of vegetarian options are offered as well. CHPE is open for lunch and offers a daily lunch special, in addition to the standard normal menu.At night, the huge terrace is attractive for all, but is mainly meant for people who want to smoke Cuban cigars. Yes, you can smoke Cubans without worrying about the feds. You can find out with Pisco goes best with the more than 20 varieties of cigars on hand. This new republic is the chic place to be so if you plan on going at night be sure to make reservations because everyone from television stars to cigar and Pisco lovers seem to show up, thirsty and hungry.
CHPE Chipe Libre is located at Jose Victorino Lastarria 282, Santiago. Call for reservations at 02 26640584