During Chilean summers, city streets are filled with carts selling a sweet refresher known as mote con huesillos. The fruity beverage, with its husked wheat, sun-dried peaches, and thick, amber-colored syrup, offers a unique combination of textures and flavors.
To make the sweet drink, vendors start by soaking dried peaches (huesillos) in water overnight. Then they cook the fruits in a syrup made from caramelized sugar, cinnamon, and water, and allow it to cool. When it’s ready to serve, they’ll layer a plastic cup with a base of cooked wheat kernels (mote), then the peaches, and finally a generous ladle of the syrup. It all adds up to an undeniably sweet treat that Chileans sip or scoop with a spoon.
The drink is such an iconic part of Chilean cuisine that there’s even a popular saying about it: “más Chileno que un mote con huesillos” (“more Chilean than a mote con huesillos”). During Fiestas Patrias, the Chilean Independence Day celebrations in September, mote con huesillos is served alongside other traditional dishes and drinks such as empanadas, Chilean barbecue, and the terremoto cocktail.
Although it’s available throughout Chile, the drink is especially popular in its central zones. One of the best places to have a cup of mote con huesillos is at the top of Santiago’s mountains, Cerro San Cristóbal and Cerro Santa Lucía. After a hot, sweaty hike, visitors can reward themselves with the refreshing beverage while taking in the surrounding views of the city.
But if a hike up a mountain sounds a little too daunting, just start with a cold mote con huesillos during an afternoon stroll.
Need to Know
Mote con huesillos is widely available during the summer, from December through March. Though some store-bought versions exist, street vendor varieties are far more popular. The drink usually costs between 700 and 1,300 Chilean pesos (around $2).
Where to Try It
Cerro San CristobalCerro San Cristóbal, Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, Santiago, Chile
This mountain offers breathtaking views of Santiago as well as vendors offering refreshing cups of mote con huesillos. You can also take a cable car or funicular to the top.
Cerro Santa LuciaCerro Santa Lucía, Santiago, Chile
Much smaller than San Cristóbal, this mountain offers an easier hike to the top, where plenty of cups of mote con huesillos await.