Peru’s National Cocktail: The Pisco Sour

pisco sour

The Pisco Sour

Similar to food’s importance to a country’s identity, many countries have cocktails firmly rooted in the nation’s history and culture.  From the margarita of Mexico to the Caipirinha of Brazil and the Pisco Sour of Peru, signature drinks have been shaped and influenced by politics, agriculture and international trade.

The Pisco Sour’s chief ingredient is pisco, a liquor distilled from grapes that was first concocted in 16th century Peru.  From there, the cocktail adds fresh lemon juice, an egg white, sugar and bitters.  Like many classic cocktails, the exact origin of the Pisco Sour is shrouded in some mystery, but it’s generally believed to have been created in the 1920s by an American expatriate living in Peru.  Shortly thereafter, the drink gained notoriety when it was championed and popularized by President Augusto B. Leguía.  His appreciation for the Pisco Sour—as a drink created in Peru from a Peruvian liquor—helped to drive cocktail culture in Peru and resulted in the Pisco Sour being recognized as the country’s national cocktail.

While the Pisco Sour—and pisco—is most closely associated with Peru, it’s also the national cocktail of Chile and important to the country’s gastronomical identity.  The flavor of pisco varies between the two countries due to land and growing conditions, but each variety stands up well as the base in a traditional pisco sour.

The pisco, lemon juice and egg white combine to form a frothy, refreshing mix, while the sugar tempers the ingredients to create a sweeter, more palatable cocktail. If you find yourself in Peru, don’t miss out on enjoying a Pisco Sour in the land of its birth.  Or even easier, try making one at home.

Pisco Sour

1 ½ ounces pisco
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
½ egg white
1 dash Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients except bitters to a cocktail shaker.  Shake hard, without ice, so the egg emulsifies with the other ingredients.  Add ice and reshake until cold, then strain into a cocktail glass.  Top with a dash of bitters.

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