The Pisco Sour has been around for nearly 100 years now, but you still rarely see it on cocktail menus outside of metropolitan cities. Hailing from Lima, Peru, it was created by Victor Morris an ex-patriot American. Designed as a South American spin on the Whiskey Sour, it became an instant hit. Originally a simple mix of pisco, simple syrup and lime juice, by 1924 the recipe included the key addition of egg white topped with aromatic bitters. Sadly, only five years later Morris declared bankruptcy and soon passed from cirrhosis of the liver. Perhaps too much of a good thing.
If you want the total authentic experience, make sure to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru.
1.5oz Peruvian pisco (Porton, Barsol or Encanto are good brands)
0.75oz fresh lemon juice
1oz simple syrup
1 small egg white
Amargo Chuncho Peruvian Cocktail Bitters (use Angostura bitters in a pinch)Combine pisco, juice, syrup and egg white in a shaker; and shake vigorously without ice. Add ice, shake well again and strain neat. Place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.
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The first time I had a Pisco Sour, it was a revelation. Not only was it the first time I’d ever tasted Pisco, but it was also the first time I’d had egg white and bitters in a cocktail. This all seems like ancient history now, as I’ve tasted hundreds of different cocktails with more exotic ingredients than those. But, at the time it broadened my idea of what could be done beyond a three ingredient drink, as well as piquing my interest in prohibition era cocktails.
Though Chile and Peru both claim the origin of the Pisco Sour, only Peru has a public holiday in honor of the drink which is always held the first Saturday in February. This makes sense, because research shows that the cocktail originated in Lima, Peru. But surprisingly it was created by an American bartender who emigrated to Peru at the turn of the century. His name was Victor Vaughen Morris and he opened his own namesake bar in 1916 after living in the country for 13 years. My theory is that he simply created a typical sour using pisco, lime juice and simple syrup in the early part of the 1920’s. This would have been tasty enough, a pisco Daiquiri as it were. It took another decade or so for one of the other bartenders working there to add an egg white and bitters to the drink, creating instead a South American riff on the classic version of the venerable Whiskey Sour.
Speaking of bitters, I prefer to use Amargo Chuncho bitters which are made in Peru. You can find out more here.
As a bonus, I also have an original cocktail sent to GSN for you to try at home. Salud!
Hometown (Created by Enrique Sanchez)
Rose Pistola, San Francisco
1 ¾ parts Portón
¾ part fresh lemon juice
¾ part Darbo Elderflower Syrup
½ part Averna
½ part egg white
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously without ice. After dry shake, add ice and shake all ingredients again. Shake contents over a martini glass. Garnish with 1 mint leaf and a dash of Angostura bitters.
‘Enrique Sanchez of Rose Pistola in San Francisco created the Hometown as a reflection of his Peruvian and Italian heritage, using each culture’s respective spirit: pisco and amaro. He notes, “Portòn offers this cocktail a bouquet of flavors with a touch of pineapple on the finish which, when combined with the caramel-bitter of Averna, give birth to a very balanced and nostalgic rendition of a pisco sour.”’
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