National Pisco Sour Day took place earlier this month in Peru, and this year I was fortunate enough to be at the Pisco Sour Festival in Lima to sample a few of the iconic cocktails.
As I wrote on Wednesday, pisco is a type of South American brandy, and the pisco from Peru has a complex, earthy flavor and a heady floral perfume unlike those of any other spirit I've encountered. The Pisco Sour is the most popular way of consuming pisco, and for decades it has been the signature drink of Peru, also enjoying great popularity in Peru's neighbor and pisco rival, Chile.
A few notes on preparation: first, the recipes I encountered in Lima were uniformly on the strong side, using three ounces of pisco for each drink, so I'm passing that along here; if it's too boozy for you, the pisco can be reduced to two ounces, but the stronger version really is worth a shot, especially if you're using a good-quality pisco such as Campo de Encanto or BarSol. Also, many recipes for this drink call for lemon juice instead of lime, or leave the option open. In Peru, I only saw small limes (similar to key limes) being used, and there wasn't a lemon to be found—even in large grocery stores in Miraflores. I'd suggest using lime juice, not just for authenticity but because it also just tastes better. Be sure your egg white is as fresh as possible, of course, and if the drink weighs in too tart, feel free to knock up the simple syrup to your taste.
A Pisco Sour is typically finished with a dash of bitters atop the egg-white foam; Angostura bitters will work fine, though if you really want to aim for authenticity (and flavor), track down some Peruvian Amargo bitters; these can be purchased in well-stocked stores, or from online vendors such as cocktailkingdom.com.
- 3 ounces pisco
- 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup (see note)
- 1 fresh egg white
- 1 dash Angostura or Amargo bitters
Combine pisco, lime, simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker without ice and seal. Shake vigorously until egg white is foamy, about 10 seconds. Add ice to shaker and shake again very hard until well-chilled, about 10 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass; dash bitters atop the egg-white foam.
For simple syrup: In a jar, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup superfine sugar. Seal jar and shake until sugar is completely dissolved. Keep remainder refrigerated.