Ecuadorian Canelazo is a traditional spiced beverage of the Andes which will definitely keep you warm inside and out during the cooler times of the beautiful Ecuadorian highlands. The beverage was originally made by mixing water, sugar, and cinnamon together then adding a bit of aguardiente which is simply pure cane sugar alcohol. People also add a local (and technically illegal) alcohol called Punta to the beverage which is delicious. It’s my favorite! Ecuador is home to vast sugar cane production so there is plenty to go around.
The beverage is often enjoyed during festivals when people will be spending more time outside then normal. Most of Ecuador has a pretty mild climate. It’s never really too hot nor is it too cold during the day. However, the Andes see quite a bit of rainfall. Combine this with the cold of the night and one might find the need for a hot beverage that’ll warm the insides right up. This is where Canelazo comes into play.
While I was in Ecuador, I drank this delicious beverage often. During our cruise in the Galapagos, our ship’s crew would often have piping hot cups of Canelazo waiting for us as we returned from a snorkeling excursion. One of my favorite memories of drinking Canelazo was when I (along with the Nomadic Boys) headed to Quilatoa to see the water-filled caldera of the volcano. It was actually a pretty cold day and the hike had been grueling. On the way back we stopped in a local shop and I purchased a cup of Canelazo which I drank while sitting in the back of a truck we hired to take us back to the town of Latacunga. The drive took about an hour as we chatted with a couple fellow travelers we shared the ride with. I didn’t chat very much as the Canelazo tooks its toll and I fell asleep.
If you’d like to make Canelazao at home, here’s the recipe with a few suggestions for adjustments. Some of the ingredients may be difficult to find and it’s perfectly acceptable to substitute.
Servings: 10-12 drinks
Time: 45 Minutes Active: 10 Minutes
6 cups of water
8 cinnamon sticks
1 1/4 cups of panela sugar
1 medium orange thinly sliced (if you can find frozen naranjillo, substitute 2 cups of naranjillo)- OPTIONAL
Aguardiente to taste (You may substitute white rum if you can’t find aguardiente. It will not taste exactly the same but will do in a jiff)
1) Mix all the ingredients in a medium sized pot (except the aquardiente) and bring to a boil.
2) Let boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 30-40 minutes. The liquid should have a noticeable cinnamon flavor.
3) If time is an issue, simply boil it for 10-15 minutes. It will taste better if you allow it to simmer for longer but this will do for a quick recipe.
4) To serve, add a shot of aguardiente to each glass. Pour the Canelazo liquid into each mug and enjoy. It may also be enjoyed as a non-alcoholic beverage by simply omitting the alcohol.
Notes on Aguardiente Servings
1 oz of aguardiente to each glass = a light serving
1.5 oz of aguardiente to each glass = a medium-strong serving
2 oz of aguardiente to each glass = a strong serving
Pin Me, Please!