Pisco isn’t a liquor that’s on most people’s radars if you live outside of South America. It’s a grape brandy that’s made in Chile and Peru, and in Peru it’s used to make the national drink: a classic Pisco Sour.
Pisco Sours are everything you want in a cocktail – bright, strong, foamy and slightly herbaceous. We fell in love with them on our trip and brought back a bottle of Pisco to create our own Pisco Sours back at home.
What is Pisco?
Pisco is made by fermenting grapes to make wine then distilling those fermented grapes to produce a light grape brandy. It’s a clear or light liquor that unlike vodka does have flavor.
Pisco is produced in both Peru and Chile, and for Pisco made in Peru it has to be made with a single grape varietal. You can use the liquor for any number of cocktails like pisco sours, pisco tonics, and other creative pisco based drinks.
Pisco in Peru
There’s a major wine producing region in Peru outside the city of Ica, which is about 4 hours south of Lima by car. It’s there where we stayed at Hotel Viñas Queirolo, which was a stunning hotel on the grounds of an active vineyard.
We were able to take a tour of the vineyard, participate in a pisco and wine tasting as well as enjoy many a pisco sours by the hotel pool. While staying at the hotel you have access to the grounds to roam around the vineyards to your heart’s content.
When we left Ica we brought a bottle of Pisco from the vineyard with us – we carried it throughout the rest of our trip through Peru and back to the States. All to bring a little Peruvian pisco sour sunshine back to Nashville with us.
Components of Pisco Sour
Once you get your hands on some Pisco the rest of the ingredients for a Pisco Sour are very simple. You add some sweetness from simple syrup and the sour component from fresh lime or lemon juice. Frothy egg whites give a creaminess to your cocktail, and everything is finished with a dots of angostura bitters (the same you would use to make an old fashioned).
In addition to the bottle we brought back from Vinas Queirolos, I was able to find Pisco at a large liquor store in Nashville. I had to ask for help locating it, but they had it available! Angostura bitters can also be bought from major liquor stores.
For the simple syrup, I just make my own using a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. I tried making these pisco sours with just lime juice and didn’t find them to be quite tart enough. A mix of both lemon juice and lime juice struck the balance I was going for.
Don’t be afraid of the egg whites in here! They give the pisco sour body and the characteristic frothy top.
How to Make a Pisco Sour
Pisco sours pack a punch. They are 3 parts pisco to 1 part simple syrup to 1 part lemon/lime juice plus the whites of 1 egg. You combine all of these ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake it very vigorously for at least 30-45 seconds. All the shaking is what whips the eggs whites and gives the cocktail its classic foam.
The next time I make pisco sours I’m going to try using an immersion blender to mix the ingredients and really whip the egg white! I’ll update this post with the results when I do 🙂
The final step in making a pisco sour is dotting the top of the cocktail with angostura bitters. The aroma of the bitters enhances the flavor of the cocktail as you’re drinking it.
Classic Peruvian Pisco Sour
Transport yourself to South America with a classic Pisco Sour – it’s bright, strong, & refreshing, and simple to make at home!
- 3 oz Peruvian pisco
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 egg white
- 3 drops angostura bitters
Prepare simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water in small pot and heating until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and set aside.
Juice limes and lemons for enough juice to make as many cocktails as you’re planning
To make one pisco sour combine 3 oz pisco, 1 oz simple syrup, 1/2 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz lime juice, and egg white in a cocktail shaker over ice
Shake vigorously for 30-45 seconds and pour into high ball classes. Make sure you shake out all the foam that’s left at the bottom of the shaker
Dot with angostura bitters and serve!