Pisco Sour: the emblematic cocktail of Peru.
Pisco is without a doubt one of the most controversial, patriotic and mythical alcoholic beverages in the world. Besides that, it makes for an extraordinary tasty cocktail: the Pisco Sour!
This brandy based mix has been popular for centuries in Peru, and many restaurants in Cusco like to offer it as a free drink to their clientes. But Pisco comes with its fair share of controversies.
First of all there is the discrepancy about the exact origin of the name pisco itself . Some say it means bird in Quechua; a species frequently seen in what today is known as the Pisco Valley. The natives of this coastal valley were also called piskos. They were exceptional ceramic artisans and the clay pots they made to keep their local moonshine chicha in were eventually also called piskos. Sailors that transported these pots between the colonies then started naming the drink pisco, after the port of Pisco where it was believed to originate from.
And then there is the question of ownership, as both Chile and Peru have adopted it as their national drink claiming the exclusive rights to appellation of origin. The fact is that the first vine plants arrived from the Spanish Canary Islands in the 15th century. Due to the ideal climates vineyards were created in the Pisco and Ica valley in Peru and the Elqui valley in north Chile, both belonging to what then was called the Viceroyalty of Peru. When Peru and Chile became separate countries, residents of both winemaking regions thought of the beverage as theirs.
Nowadays, who makes the superior cocktail is fanatically debated within both countries. The truth is that if you taste both you’ll realize that they are completely different drinks. In Chile, they use a Pisco with less alcoholic content, sugar instead of syrup and lack the aromatic bitters and egg whites. It isn’t blended but shaken and served in a flute rather than the classic sour glass.
The typical Pisco Sour in Peru is prepared 2-2-1: 2 parts pisco, 2 parts lime juice and 1 part simple syrup. However, in order to make a mean Peruvian Pisco Sour that is not too sourly, follow the recipe below:
- 3 ounces Peruvian Pisco (1/3 cup)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup (Jarabe de Goma in Spanish)
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup ice
- Angostura Bitters
- 1. Use a blender to mix the lime juice with the syrup
- 2. Add the ice and pisco and blend at high speed for 10 seconds.
- 3. Add the egg white and blend till frothed.
- 4. Pour into a couple of glasses, add a dash of bitters and serve.
The Pisco Sour has been subject to all kinds of experimentation and there are countless variations replacing lime with passion fruit, pineapple, chicha morada, even coca leaves but never lemon! Both lime and lemon translate into Spanish as limón, which happens to sound a lot like lemon.
You might also want to try out a Chilcano de Pisco (with sprite), a Peru Libre (with coke) or a Te Acholado (a traditional mate or tea prepared with pisco also known as Te Mágico) or just let yourself be surprised by asking the bartender to serve you his favorite pisco drink while you are out in Cusco town!
¡Salud! Enjoy Cusco