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Classic Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know: Pisco Sour

To understand what a Pisco Sour is you first need to understand what Pisco is all about. Pisco is a colorless brandy that originates from Peru and is currently one of the largest exports from South American countries both Peru and Chile. Mentions of Pisco go back as far as the late 1500’s and has been so popular that the spirit was a favorite of gold rushers in San Francisco and the rest of California during the 1800’s and early 1900’s. It is traditionally distilled in copper pot stills much like Scotch or Whiskey and it’s flavor not only comes from the distillation process but the grapes used in the process and the region they grow. There are four different levels of purity in Peru… 

  • Puro (Pure), made from a single variety of grape, mostly Quebranta, although Mollar or Common Black can be used; however, no blending between varieties is accepted (“pure” pisco should contain only one variety of grape).
  • Aromáticas (Aromatic), made from Muscat or Muscat-derived grape varieties, and also from Albilla, Italia and Torontel grape varieties; once again, the pisco should only contain one variety of grape in any production lot.
  • Mosto Verde (Green Must), distilled from partially fermented must, this must be distilled before the fermentation process has completely transformed sugars into alcohol.
  • Acholado (Multivarietal), blended from the must of several varieties of grape.

The Pisco Sour is a cocktails who origins go back to sometime between 1916 and the early 1920’s by American Victor Morris who was working in Lima, Peru at the time. The recipe we used today however was invented by Mario Bruiget, a peruvian bartender who worked in Morris’ bar and added Angostura bitters and egg whites to the concoction. Chilean historians will argue that in the 1600’s Englishman Elliot Stubb in vented the drink after visiting a port city in Peru but most historians agree he invented the Whiskey Sour not the Pisco Sour which first started appearing in recipe books in 1921.

The Recipe: Pisco Sour

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Pisco
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • 3/4 oz Egg White
  • Angostura Bitters

Tools and Glassware:

  • Shaker
  • Cocktail glass (Martini or Coupe)
  • Strainer
  • Double Strainer
  • Blender Ball (Optional if you have it)

How to prepare the drink:

First, take the lemon and lime juice, egg white and if you have it a blender ball and add them to a shaker and dry shake hard for 20 seconds. Next, add all the rest of the ingredients to the shaker with ice and shake hard for another minute. Then double strain into a up cocktail glass (martini or coupe). If you would like to be fancy you may light the bitters on fire. No garnish is required but a nice thin lime slice looks nicely floating on top.

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