When we travel to new places, one of Mike’s favorite things to do is seek out the local cuisine, typically from an old lady hustling from a street cart at midnight, while Tara is usually the first to order a local libation. And Peru was no different. Enter in, the pisco sour. This delicious cocktail can literally be found at every bar in Peru. If you’ve previously been traveling through Chile, you may have noticed that there is no shortage of pisco sours there either. If you want to avoid getting into a heated discussion with a Peruvian, it’s best not to even mention the Chilean version because both Peru and Chile lay claim to its base liquor, pisco. Peruvians are fiercely proud people and seem to have a small complex over their defeat at the hands of the Chileans in the War of the Pacific, and this long-standing dispute over pisco has become somewhat of a proxy war for righting old wrongs.
According to Peruvians, pisco was created from distilling grapes that emerged on their lands during the colonial era, after the Spanish brought over vineyards. The first reports of the production of this grape spirit can be traced back to the start of the 17th century. Today, Peruvian pisco is produced only on the coast with the aim of protecting the designation of origin.
While many cocktails are built from pisco, the pisco sour remains the most popular and iconic of the bunch. The pisco sour was actually invented by an American in the early 1920’s, when Victor Vaughn Morris (a bartender in Lima) was attempting to make his favorite drink, the whiskey sour, but ran out of his beloved spirit. Desperate for a drink, he used what he had readily available, giving birth to the pisco sour. The drink’s popularity spread quickly and other bars began to experiment with their own versions. By the end of the decade, the modern pisco sour was born. The drink is so popular today that it even has its own holiday, celebrated by Peruvians on the first Saturday of February.
Now that you have a brief history, we’re sure you want to know where the hell to get one of these delicious cocktails. We recommend you skip a headache caused by those awful 2×1 happy hour pisco sours advertised at every bar in every town, and head to a classy establishment. If you’re in Lima, head to one of the coolest bars in town, Ayahuasca, which not only offers a delicious pisco sour, it has pages of variations on this classic. Heading straight to Cusco? The Pisqueros at Museo Del Pisco has you covered. This place is not so much a bar as it is a house of worship for all things pisco.
Or maybe you’re interested in making your own? Below is a recipe for a classic pisco sour that can be whipped up at home. We only ask that you invite us over to share. Salud!
- Simple Syrup (highly suggest making your own with 1/2 cup sugar and 3 spoonfuls of water)
- 7 1/2 oz pisco
- 1 egg white
- 2 1/2 oz of lemon juice
- Put 1/2 cup of sugar in a small pot with 3 spoonfuls of water, just enough to dampen the sugar
- Cook on a slow fire, stirring with a spoon until the sugar is entirely dissolved
- Take it off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes
- Add the lemon juice and the pisco to the warm syrup and beat firmly until the ingredients have been mixed well
- Pour the mixture into a blender and add ice until the liquid volume has been doubled
- Blend at top speed for approx. 30 seconds, until the ice has completely dissolved
- Add an egg white and blend again at top speed for 1 minute
- Pour the mixture into a jar and serve immediately, in “old-fashioned” glasses on in white wine glasses
- To top it off, add a drop of bitters to each glass, in the middle of the foam