Arnold Fernandez Coraza
The Imperial City of Cusco, more known as a chelero-town, a beer drinking place, is given this name because during its year, its calendar is filled with fiestas. The people of the city celebrate each of their events with their beers. Because so many cases of beer are consumed during these days Cuzco is called the place of beer.
People in Cuzco drink beer because when they do so they come together in unity. It is said that to share beers is to erase for a few moments all ones sorrows and bring out all the joy and happiness that is appropriate during feasts. This is one of the arguments that people give for drinking during celebrations.
On the other hand some people decide to celebrate with another beverage that is also well known. The difference is that this other one is only drunk in small quantities. It is called cañazo. It is a beverage that our ancestors loved. It is made from sugar cane and is transparent. It comes to Cusco from Quillabamba, Potrero, from Ayacucho, Calle Banba, and from Abancay, Pachay Chaca.
This traditional drink comes to Cuzco in a completely pure form. When it is distributed to the different stores of the city some of the store-keepers mix it with water to get a larger quantity. This is why you seldom really find cañazo in its completely pure and un-mixed form.
Cañazo is used to prepare our traditional drink called ponche. This magical beverage is mixed in a bottle with ayrampo. They leave it for a good while so that they ayrmapo infuses the liquor, and then, when they serve up glasses of ponche, they add a few drops of this infused alcohol to give it a subtle, special flavor. In addition, cañazo is known to be good for curing stomachache. When a person feels their stomach is swollen from eating too much or something similar, they give them a cup of cañazo and the stomach problems disappear.
Cañazo has a strong flavor. That is why its drinkers prefer to buy it in a pure and unmixed form. Some people, though, when they drink it will mix it with a bottle of soda. Cañazo comes at a very economical price in comparison to beer. Many people prefer it because of its taste and others only because it costs less. But in any case it is very much part of the life of Cuzco.