Peru’s national drink and most popular cocktail is surely the famous Pisco Sour. It is the welcome drink in Peru and served for literally any occasion.
Peruvian Pisco – the most important ingredient
Pisco Sour is based on Pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy. When conquering the New World, the Spaniards brought the first grapevines to Peru in the 16th century. Due to the favorable climate along the southern coast the grapes prospered and soon a significant wine industry developed in the region. According to records, Pisco is produced in Peru since the 17th century by fermenting crushed grapes and then distilling the fermented grape juice in copper pot stills. After distillation, the Peruvian Pisco ages at least 3 months in vessels that won’t alter the flavor, such as the traditional amphorae called piskos or today as well stainless or glass containers.
Peruvian Pisco is never diluted with water; no sugar or other additives are added to change the original alcohol level or flavor. And the original Peruvian Pisco must be made in the regions of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua or Tacna.
Apart from the Pisco other main ingredients of the Pisco Sour are lime juice obtained from pressing out the small, very acidy Peruvian limes, fresh egg white and Jarabe de Goma, known in the cocktail scene as well as gummy or gum syrup.
Some Pisco Sour history
Numerous stories and myths entwine around the creation of the first Pisco Sour. Many sources claim that it was invented in the 1920s by Victor Vaughen Morris, the owner of the Morris’ Bar in Lima, the place in town for the Peruvian upper class and foreigners, and then refined by Mario Bruiget, a Peruvian bartender working at the Morris Bar, later.
A recipe book from 1903 however already includes a description of a cocktail extremely similar to Morris’ Pisco Sour recipe that was served many decades earlier around town. And others see in the Pisco Sour just an adaption to the popular Whiskey Sour that was served since the mid 19th century in Latin America.
Pisco Sour – not only popular but part of Peruvian culture
Anyway, while we might never know who invented the first Pisco Sour, Morris surely is the one laying the foundation for its popularity. Today the Pisco Sour is part of the Peruvian culture and the pride and joy of every Peruvian. Every bar and restaurants serves it and Peruvians drink Pisco Sour whenever there is something to celebrate, when coming together with friends or to welcome strangers and foreigners. In 2007 the Pisco Sour was even officially declared a part of Peru’s National Cultural Patrimony and is celebrated every year on the first Saturday of February with the “Dia Nacional del Pisco Sour”.
How to make the perfect Pisco Sour
First of all, the key to a great Pisco Sour are the ingredients: Don’t use some cheap booze, but rather a high quality Pisco - a Pisco Aromático, Pisco Acholado or even a usually very expensive Pisco Mosto Verde. Best choose the small Peruvian limes – if there are none around use the most acidy limes you can find – and press them out shortly before preparing the Pisco Sour. Most recipes ask for Jarabe de Goma. In the cocktail scene it is as well known as gummy or gum syrup. Here as well choose quality over price. It can be substituted with white cane sugar syrup or even white granulated sugar. The egg white should be fresher than fresh.
The proportions of the ingredients are variable. Usually a ratio of 3:1:1, 3:2:1 or even 4:1:1 is used. Our recipe below for a smoother and easy drinkable version of a perfect Pisco Sour is well tested and based on a mix of 3:2:1 (3 parts Pisco, 2 parts syrup and 1 part lime juice).
When prepared in the right way the Pisco Sour has a fine balance between the quite strong Pisco (alcohol percentage of between 38% and 48%), the intense lime juice and the sweetness of the sugar syrup. So go easy on the Pisco and the syrup. Pisco Sour is usually served in three sizes: Single, Double or "Catedral" (Cathedral).