Although the preparation of pisco-based mixed beverages possibly dates back to the 1700s, historians and drink experts agree that the cocktail as it is known today was invented in the early 1920s in Lima, the capital of Peru. The most accepted tale is that it began its existence in Lima’s popular, wood-paneled Morris Bar back in the early 20th century.
Victor Vaughen Morris, an American who moved to Peru for the mining trade in 1903, opened the Morris Bar and first made the drink as an alternative to the Whiskey Sour. The modern version of the Pisco Sour wasn’t born until the late 1920s, when bartender Mario Bruige added Angostura bitters and egg white.
However, the Pisco Sour can trace its origins much further back to the creation of its base: the strong, brandy-like liquor, Pisco. Find out more about Pisco from our blog article; Peruvian Pisco – The Spirit of a Nation. The famous cocktail even has its own day and Pisco Sour Day is celebrated every first Saturday in February.
• Pisco – A Peruvian unaged brandy, made with left over wine grapes, is the main ingredient.
• Egg white – Essential in this cocktail! Egg whites provide very little flavor but so much texture, making it really smooth and silky. It also provides the lovely white topping to the cocktail.
• Angostura Bitters – The bitters are a quintessential and definitive ingredient for this classic cocktail. Its main use is decoration and to provide an aroma other than egg white.
• Lime juice – Freshly squeezed lime juice is best, it adds a tangy citrus flavor to the cocktail. The use of lemons or limes was much debated in the early days due to the confusion that Peruvians call their limes, lemons!
• Sugar syrup – Home-made, definitely better than just using caster sugar!
How to Make a Pisco Sour?
Good news: the Peruvian cocktail is quite easy to make!
2 shots pisco1 shot fresh lime juice1 shot sugar syrup (2:1 ratio)1/2 an egg whiteAngostura bitters
1) Pour egg white, Pisco, sugar syrup and then lime juice into a shaker, dry-shake (without ice) for around 20-30 seconds to generate a decent amount of foam from the egg white.
2) Add the ice and shake again to chill the drink.
3) Strain into a chilled glass, add three drops of Angostura Bitters on top, and enjoy!
You have to drink through a thick head of foam (if you’ve done it right!) to get to the chilled liquid underneath, and the combination of sweet foam and sour liquid is truly splendid. Some people prefer to put all the ingredients in a blender with 3 ice cubes and blend until smooth. However, the traditional way to prepare the cocktail is to shake it.
In Peru, it is not difficult to find a good Pisco Sour as all the top bars in the country serve it. If you however are on the look-out for THE one, we would recommend to visit the Hotel Bolivar in downtown Lima, considered the ´traditional home of the Pisco sour´, or stop by the Country Club Lima Hotel, an architectural gem with a setting that’s as classic as the cocktail.