Peru’s pretty accessible — just 5 1/2 hours by air from Miami to Lima — and it’s a country boasting many “must sees.” The most obvious is Machu Picchu, but the second is the darling town of Cusco. Home to 400,000 people, it’s a cul-de-sac of food, drink and Peruvian daily life. Two bars that caught my eye were only a few cobblestones away from one another.
This restaurant/bar is worth a walk-through even if you don’t plan to stay and imbibe. A carefully curated and combined amalgamation of work by many Peruvian artists, the feel is bordello-meets-funhouse. One room, for example, is bathed in red with devilish accents — red vinyl pillows in the shape of hearts on a giant, brass bed and paper-mache flames shooting across the ceiling — while another room’s walls are painted sky blue with puffy white clouds. There are a massive, metal robotic angel sculpture, pink pigs dangling from the ceiling, and giant bathtubs filled with live goldfish and topped with glass that serve as tables. The chairs throughout are velour-covered hollow cubes, sporting tacky animal prints. You actually store your purse and coat inside them before you sit. I counted no less than 27 disco balls. If you are feeling adventurous (or possibly too drunk to leave), there are similarly festooned rooms for rent on the second level ($290/night).
DRINK: I tried several of the cocktails. The Aguaymanto Chilcano was undrinkable. My advice: Request a beer or a plain Pisco Sour (18 Nuevo Sol/$7). The artistry makes up for what the cocktails lack.
DETAILS: Plazoleta Nazarenas 221; fallenangelincusco.com.
You have to duck through an art gallery and climb a flight of stairs to enter. The first two floors of this three-level venue offer indoor seating, and the view from the rooftop deck is a sea of terracotta tiles, cobblestone alleys and church towers. Bar Supervisor Ebelin Sonocco has been making infused piscos for the last three years, starting with the high-quality Santiago Queirolo Quebranta Pisco. She adds herbs, peppers and spices, leaving them in the liquor for up to three months. The results range from a spicy chile pepper pisco to a fantastic Eucalyptus flavored pisco, but the most popular is the coca-leaf infusion. A Coquita Sour will set you back about $6. (Yes, coca — the same plant used for cocaine, but not to worry. This use of the plant is both legal and safe). The infused pisco is then shaken hard with an egg white, sugar syrup and lime juice. In America, Pisco Sours are commonly served without ice. In Cusco, however, you will find them shaken with fine shards of crushed ice that make a slushie-styled layer right below the drink’s rim of froth.
GO: Just prior to dusk for the sunset
DETAILS: 121 Palacio St., cuzcodining.com.