Friday Night Cocktail: Pisco Sour

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on July 9, 2010

In September 2003, I had the opportunity to travel to South America, where I visited Chile and Argentina. I fell in love with both countries, and in reality, I left a piece of my heart there. I loved Argentina for its carefree life, even in the face of potential financial ruin and desperate unemployment rates. I fell in love with Chile because of its haunting, natural beauty and the very obvious juxtaposition between the wealthy and the poor…but most importantly, I will remember the sincere desire of its people to thrive and survive. Some of the travelers in our group left a week ahead of us and had the opportunity to visit Peru, but unfortunately, my schedule did not permit the diversion.

Two days after arriving, there was a lavish banquet planned for us where we were served one of the national drinks called a Pisco Sour. It is made with Pisco, a national drink made from grapes, dried egg whites (which gives it the traditional foamy head), simple syrup or powdered sugar, lemon or lime juice and a dash of bitters…I never noticed the addition of the bitters when I was there, and frankly, did not miss it at all. The traditional bottles of Pisco were flask shaped, conical bottles where the wines were interred to age…but when it was time to leave, I wanted to find the coolest looking bottle I could get my hands on. I found this carved replica of the famous statues of Easter island, and I always get some inquisitive stares and raised eyebrows when I bring out the bottle…isn’t it cool?

Here is a better shot I found online…

After falling in love with the drink, I came back and did some research on the product. There is actually some serious rivalry going on between Chile and Peru as to the ownership of the Pisco liquor…and subsequent creation of the Pisco Sour. Peru considers Pisco its National drink, and even celebrates an annual holiday in February to honor the beverage. Peru takes its Pisco production very serioulsy and  has created regulations that ensure traditional standards be enforced during the manufacturing process. They believe that if it is not manufactured according to these specific guidelines, it cannot be called Pisco. In Peru, the only grapes that are used are Quebranta, Mollar, Common Black, Muscat, Albilla, Italia and Torontel varieties, depending on what grade of Pisco they are making. Some are made with only one type of grape while others use a blend.  

Chillean Pisco on the other hand is usually made from a mixture of several different grapes which include the Muscat, Torontel and Pedro Jimenez varieties.

Regardless of who may be the rightful owner and creator of this delicious liquor, I encourage you to try one. If you are a fan of whiskey sours, then you will love this as well… but be careful, it’s pale yellow color does not taste very strong but it packs a serious punch, so drink responsibly…

Pisco Sour

2 oz Pisco

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz simple syrup

½ teaspoon dry egg whites

Dash of bitters on top of foam (optional)

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