Pastry chef Michelle Duran created this ice-cold, alcohol-infused treat as a part of SUSHISAMBA's summer menu. Perfect for hot days and warm nights.
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup lime juice
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup yuzu juice
- 2/3 cup pisco
Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a pot. Stir occasionally so the sugar doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. Strain the mixture through a chinoise and cool. Add the remaining ingredients and transfer to a large bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Touch the plastic wrap directly to the mixture so there is no space for air between the two. This will prevent freezer burn. Place the bowl in your freezer and leave until the mixture becomes solid. Once solid, remove the plastic wrap and use an ice cream scoop to serve the sorbet.
- 2 fluid ounces pisco
- ¾ fluid ounce lime juice
- ¾ fluid ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup ice
- 4 drops Angostura bitters
Combine Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Cover and shake for 10 to 20 seconds to emulsify the egg white. Add ice cover and shake until chilled.
Strain into chilled Champagne coupe. Garnish with 4 drops Angostura Bitters swirled with two straws.
Friday Cocktails: Pisco Sour Slushy
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a frozen margarita rimmed with salt just as much as the next person, but after a few long boozy weekends, the whole concept can get a little old hat. This summer, I stumbled upon a variation that completely refreshed my attitude towards the frozen cocktail. At a dinner with friends at SushiSamba, a restaurant with several locations in New York (and throughout the country), our flavorful meal concluded its savory portion with a palate-cleansing sorbet trio from the pastry chef. True to the restaurant’s fusion ethos, there was a green apple-wasabi scoop with a serious bite, and a pleasantly sweet red shiso scoop. But neither could trump the best of the three: a pisco sour sorbet, made with the South American grape brandy that’s popular in Chile and Peru. Salty, sweet, and tart, it was a beautiful sorbet.
Trying to replicate the recipe back in the SAVEUR test kitchen, I realized that because the alcohol in the sorbet isn’t cooked, the mixture melts at a rate perfect to yield a slushy and satisfying drink. I simplified the recipe even further by making it a granita: just leave the pan in the freezer and enjoy this grown-up slush whenever the mood for a frozen treat strikes.
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Easy Pisco Sour
Pisco sour is THE drink in Chile it is the drink of choice both in restaurants and at family gatherings. This is the recipe we prepare at home: easy and delicious.
Pisco Sour was invented in Lima, Peru. And became popular in Chile many decades ago.
Here in the USA, it is increasingly easy to find pisco at liquor stores, and if you live in Texas, I recommend going to Spec’s. I love the variety of spirits and wines they offer. If you see Catan Pisco, get it, it’s my current favorite, delicious flavor, you will love it. It’s the brainchild of Catalina, a Chilean women entrepreneur.
This recipe is a batch version of the traditional drink. It’s essential for all the ingredients to be chill in advance, except the egg white. You can use pasteurized egg whites if that is a health concern, or leave it out. You will be missing the frothy top, but the flavor is still excellent.
Instead of doing my own boring simple syrup, I used one of the delightful Bar-Tisan syrups, available in Houston at Local Foods (Rice Village and The Heights) they have so many amazing flavors, but I like my pisco sours on the herbal side so I went with rosemary. But have fun trying different combinations.
If you want to learn the traditional version watch this video
This time we shared it with American friends who had never tried it and oh, boy, did they like it, remember to drink in moderation.
Three Ways: The Pisco Sour
Heralded as the national drink of Peru, the Pisco Sour dates back almost a century and is typically attributed to American expat Victor Morris and his Morris Bar in downtown Lima. Made with a base of pisco&mdasha grape-based brandy produced in Chile and Peru and typically unaged&mdashthe cocktail adheres to the classic sour structure, with the addition of a foamy egg-white layer, often finished with bitters across the top. With tweaks made to enhance pisco&rsquos fruity bouquet or to make the Pisco Sour&rsquos signature froth vegan-friendly, here are three plays on the classic recipe.
Panyo Panyo At San Francisco&rsquos Kaiyō, a new Peruvian and Japanese-influenced restaurant, bar manager Debora Fernandez, who grew up in Lima, was determined to showcase the adaptability of pisco on the menu. In the Panyo Panyo (pictured above), the Pisco Sour emerges transformed, as sweetened rice milk provides body and mouthfeel while vermouth and chamomile tea illuminate pisco&rsquos floral sensibility. &ldquoI wanted to create a different cocktail from the Pisco Sour to focus on the versatility of the moscatel varietal,&rdquo Fernandez says. &ldquoAnd I wanted to pay homage to Japan, which is where I got the idea of using rice milk and tea.&rdquo
Prep the drink by brewing the chamomile tea, using 2 teabags per 12 oz. of water, and allowing it to cool. Make the sweetened rice milk by adding 4 oz. of simple syrup (1:1) to 8 oz. of rice milk. To make the drink, in an ice-filled shaker, add 1½ oz. of Peruvian pisco, ½ oz. of dry vermouth, 1½ oz. of sweetened rice milk, ½ oz. of chamomile tea, ½ oz. of fresh lemon juice and 2 dashes of orange bitters. Shake until chilled, then double strain into a chilled tumbler (at Kaiyō it&rsquos served in a clay cup), then garnish with an edible flower.
Maracuya Sour Across town from Kaiyō, Enrique Sanchez, head bartender at the weeknight-only Dogpatch venue School Night, adds depth to a variation found on bar menus around the country in the form of crème de cacao. &ldquoLots of drinks are inspired by how desserts are constructed,&rdquo Sanchez says. &ldquoCacao and passion fruit are meant to be&mdasha little sweet, a little tart and very harmonious.&rdquo
To make the Maracuya Sour, add 2 oz. of pisco (Sanchez uses a Peruvian acholado), ½ oz. each of fresh lime juice and lemon juice, ½ oz. of passion fruit syrup (Sanchez uses Small Hand Foods), ½ oz. of crème de cacao (Sanchez uses Giffard) and ½ oz. of fresh egg white (pasteurized if you like) to a blender, along with about 10 ice cubes. Blend on high for 5 seconds or until frothy, then fine strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with Peychaud&rsquos bitters.
Frozen Pisco Sour Pisco rules the backbar at the Peruvian restaurant Llama Inn in Brooklyn&rsquos Williamsburg neighborhood. There, bar director Lynnette Marrero perks up the standard Pisco Sour formula (of which the bar sells an estimated 150 each week) with riffs that play on the cocktail&rsquos trademark texture. For her Frozen Pisco Sour, made in the bar&rsquos granita machine, the classic ingredients get the slushie treatment.
To prepare six servings, add 12 oz. of Peruvian pisco, 3 oz. of fresh lime juice, 2 oz. of fresh lemon juice, 5 oz. of rich simple syrup (2:1) and 1 scoop of crushed ice to a blender, and blend for 20 seconds. Add 1 fresh egg white (pasteurized if you prefer) or 2 oz. of aquafaba , along with a little more crushed ice, then blend again for 10 seconds. Pour the drink evenly between six glass tumblers and top each with 3 drops of Chuncho or Angostura bitters
We are heading to the Land of the Incas, with the emblematic Peruvian cocktail now known all over the world: the pisco sour!
What is pisco sour?
The name of the cocktail comes from pisco, which is its base liquor, and “sour”, a term used in various cocktails to indicate the addition of citrus juices and sweetener, as in Whiskey sour.
There is a friendly dispute between Peru and Chile when it comes to the origin of this cocktail. The Peruvian version of the pisco sour uses Peruvian pisco and adds Key lime juice, simple syrup, ice, egg whites as well as Angostura bitters. The Chilean version is quite similar, but it uses Chilean pisco, pica lime juice and powdered sugar. It does not include bitters and egg whites.
The Peruvian version of the pisco sour, which is the most famous version, is a very unique cocktail with a silky texture and a frothy top produced by emulsified egg whites.
What is pisco?
Pisco is an Incan word which means small bird. There is a valley, a river, a town, as well as a port bearing that name in Peru. The pisco spirit was originally shipped from that port, and took the name of the place of origin, just as Champagne, Port or Cognac did.
Pisco is a clear or sometimes light yellow/amber colored brandy that is produced in the winemaking regions of Peru and Chile.
Whereas vodka, gin, tequila and rum are all made from vegetables, grass or grain like rye, potatoes, sugar cane or cactus, pisco is made from fruit. Indeed, pisco is made by distilling wine grapes into a high-proof spirit. The liquor was developed by Spanish settlers during the 16th century as an alternative to orujo (or aguardiente de orujo), a brandy made from pomace that was imported from Spain.
Pisco is a not a brandy though, as brandy, which is also made with grapes and not pomace, is typically aged in oak barrels which gives it its amber color. Pisco is traditionally aged between 3 and 12 months in copper alembic stills.
Pomace defines the solid remains of grapes (or other fruits) after being pressed. It contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit. This is the main difference between pisco and other popular grape liquors made with pomace, such as Italian grappa, French marc, German Tresterschnaps, Portuguese bagaceira, Hungarian törkölypálinka, Romanian rachiul de tescovina, or rakia known in Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Greece and Cyprus.
There is a word used in France that defines bad wine: piquette. The word actually comes from the Ancient Greek and Roman times. After they pressed wine grapes twice to produce good quality wine, the resulting pomace was soaked in water for a day and pressed for a third time. The remaining liquid was then mixed with more water to produce a thin, weak wine that eventually became known as piquette!
Talking about grapes and wine, the first grapevines were actually brought to Peru shortly after its conquest by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The largest vineyards in the Americas at that time were established in the Ica valley in the south of Peru.
The other unique ingredient in a pisco sour is Angostura bitters, a botanically infused alcoholic mixture that is made of water, ethanol, gentian, herbs and spices and that is now produced in Trinidad and Tobago. These bitters enter in the composition of other famous cocktails including the Pink gin, long vodka, Old Fashioned, Manhattan or Champagne cocktail.
And finally, a modern pisco sour always includes egg whites. I can already see a few of you not that enthused about the idea of raw egg whites in a drink, but trust me, just pick fresh raw eggs and enjoy this delicious cocktail the way it is supposed to be enjoyed. This is really what gives this frothy texture that is so unique to this alcoholic beverage. It also allows the bitters to stay on top and not sink.
What is the origin of pisco sour?
There is some controversy about the paternity of the pisco sour. Although most people attribute the origin of this Peruvian cocktail to Victor Vaughen Morris, an American bartender living in Lima in the early 1900s, some argue that it existed before he made it famous.
Indeed, according to historian Luciano Revoredo, the combination of pisco with lemon would date as far back as the 18th century. At this time, the drink was named punche (punch) and it was sold by the slaves.
Then, a pisco-based cocktail recipe that included egg whites appears in the 1903 Peruvian cookbook Manual de Cocina a la Criolla (the same book where the first recipe of lomo saltado appeared).
Victor Vaughen Morris was an American who moved to Peru in 1904 to work in a railway company in Cerro de Pasco. He relocated to Lima in 1915 and, a year later, he opened Morris’ Bar, a saloon which quickly became a popular hangout for both the Peruvian upper class and English-speaking foreigners.
How to make pisco sour
The initial recipe of his pisco sour was really an adaptation of the Whiskey sour: basically pisco, lime juice and sugar. It is now widely accepted that the modern Peruvian version of pisco sour was developed by Mario Bruiget, a Peruvian from Chincha Alta who worked for Morris in 1924. Bruiget added the Angostura bitters and egg whites to the cocktail. In 1929, after Morris’ health deteriorated, he declared bankruptcy and closed his saloon. He died a few months later of cirrhosis. Too much pisco sour? Only God knows!
During the 1930s, the cocktail became a hit in California, before spreading throughout the rest of the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.
What are the different versions of pisco sour?
There are many variations of the pisco sour in Peru, and Chile where pisco is produced, but also in Bolivia.
In Peru, you can find it flavored with maracuya (passion fruit), aguaymanto (Peruvian ground cherry), apples and even coca leaf.
In Chile, you can find versions like ají sour (with spicy green chili), mango sour (with mango juice) or sour de campo (with ginger and honey).
In Bolivia, the Yunqueño version (from the Yungas region) uses orange instead of lime juice.
Pisco sour is so important to the heritage and culture of Peru that in 2003, the country created the Día Nacional del Pisco Sour (National Pisco Sour Day), a holiday that is celebrated on the first Saturday of February.
I made my first pisco sour last week and I immediately loved the smoothness and the balance of this cocktail, but most of all, I actually fell in love with the frothy layer and the Angostura bitters. I recently started to acquire a taste for whisky-based cocktails including Manhattan and Old Fashioned. Now, I know where this acquired taste comes from: Angostura bitters. They make all the difference!
This recipe is validated by our Peruvian culinary expert Morena Cuadra, author of culinary blog Peru Delights.
How to make bitters designs on a pisco sour
Once you’ve got that egg white foam, the last step is to shake some cocktail bitters on top! Bitters are small bottles of liquor infused with herbs and fruits that taste…well, bitter! They’re intended to be added into cocktails in 1 or 2 dashes to add complexity to the flavor. In the Pisco sour we used Angostura bitters, which are a popular and easy to find bottle.
It’s common with the Pisco sour that you’ll see bartenders make fancy designs using the bitters on the top of the foam. Here’s how to make the pattern you see here:
- Gently shake 3 small dots on the top of the egg white foam.
- Use a toothpick or stir stick to gently draw a line to connect them.
The Making of Barmini’s Pisco Sour
Can the same drink be at its best in both streamlined and baroque expressions? According to Miguel Lancha, absolutely.
In fact, Lancha, who oversees the beverage programs for multiple concepts in chef José Andrés’ sprawling ThinkFoodGroup empire, serves two distinctive versions of the Pisco Sour at venues a stone’s throw from each other in Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood. At China Chilcano, which celebrates Peruvian cuisine, he serves a traditional Pisco Sour, while at the experimental cocktail lounge Barmini, he offers an avant-garde hot-and-cold variation. Still, they share DNA.
“It’s like two different human beings growing up and saying, ‘[We] have the same mother, but I never met you,’” Lancha says. In other words, the essence of the Pisco Sour remains the same, whether it retains its classic format or boasts extravagant plumage.
In both cases, the same traits make for a great Pisco Sour. In addition to balanced sweet and tart flavors, Lancha ticks off three key characteristics: “correct acidity,” meaning citrus (or citric acid) that’s bright but not abrasive “a velvety, soft texture” from the egg whites, which also balances out the acidic component and “controlled dilution,” which lets the egg white add froth without becoming watered-down and bland. “Balancing those three things are key for the Pisco Sour,” he sums up. Done right, “it’s light and refreshing, but velvety.”
As a native of Spain, Lancha’s first experience with the Pisco Sour was in Madrid. “Peruvian friends would invite us over, and put it in a blender,” he recalls. Using a blender to froth the drink would create “a frozen texture,” he remembers. “The ice was not all completely broken there were chunks of ice.”
When he moved to professional bar programs in the early 2000s in Spain, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, he quickly migrated from blender to shaker. “Egg white was kind of messy in that machine,” he says.
By 2014, when Lancha took over China Chilcano’s pisco-centric bar program from Juan Coronado, he knew how to make a crowd-pleasing Pisco Sour. “We sell literally hundreds of thousands of Pisco Sours a year,” he notes. “The one that I want is the one I can replicate easily, and which my clientele enjoys the most.”
Over time, however, he adjusted the drink further, adapting it to be built and served more quickly. First, he sought to adjust the balance of the drink, dialing down the sugar in a cordial-style “lime mix” that incorporates two parts lime juice to one part simple syrup. That said, the recipe is not completely static: He still experiments with the citrus component, sometimes settling on a 50/50 blend of lemon and lime, other times supplementing with fruit such as yuzu or bergamot.
Although he had initially learned to dry-shake Pisco Sours (shaking without ice to emulsify, then shaking with ice to chill), a master class with Dale DeGroff changed his mind. DeGroff advised to shake with ice, but shake it hard, and for longer Lancha switched to shaking his Pisco Sour with large Kold-Draft ice cubes. “It was one step less, less messy, and the texture was creamier.”
The finishing touch: a pair of bitters—Angostura and Amargo Chuncho Peruvian bitters—to dot the top of the froth. “It’s not part of [the] traditional recipe, but it’s a no-brainer for a modern Peruvian restaurant,” says Lancha.
Yet, with all those changes, he’s still making adjustments. For example, he’s considering switching from just lime to a lemon-lime mix, in part to compensate for higher prices caused by an ongoing lime shortage. Meanwhile, he’s not entirely satisfied with the sweetening component: He had switched from gomme syrup, which he liked for its thicker texture but found too sweet, to simple syrup. He’s now contemplating a return to gomme syrup.
“I don’t think I’ve ever come to the final-final ‘This is it,’” he says.
Which might be for the best. Why confine the Pisco Sour within a single mold, when it so fluidly finds its best self in multiple formats?
For example, consider Barmini’s Hot and Cold Pisco Sour. The elaborate drink draws from Andrés’ time with Ferrán Adrià at Spain’s El Bulli, a pioneering space for molecular gastronomy techniques. The El Bulli version was created circa 2000 by Andrés around 2004-05, a version of the drink was brought to D.C.’s Minibar. In 2020, the Hot and Cold Pisco Sour was placed on the Barmini menu at Lancha’s discretion as homage to past menus.
It’s all about experimentation and hedonism, Lancha explains: Liquid nitrogen transforms pisco, lime, sugar and water into a chilled, slushlike texture, while the frothy egg white cap is translated as espuma, a warm, mousse-like topping. “It’s confusing, but fun-confusing,” Lancha says.
In other words, not every variation is driven strictly by making utilitarian improvements—and that’s a good thing.
“You don’t have to find efficiency all the time,” he says. “We just find joy in making things differently, pushing boundaries of technique—and sometimes we just find [a version] that is more fun.”
A Truly Unique Cocktail
Chicha Morada and Pisco Cocktail combines 3 separate and distinct components into 1 easy-sipping adult beverage. You'll need:
- PISCO! (More on this if you keep reading)
- Dry (white) vermouth or Cocchi Rosa
- Chicha Morada (Homemade Peruvian Chicha Morada or Amazon )
- Ginger Simple Syrup (see recipe or Amazon )
- Optional garnish - lime twist and/or pineapple chunk
A Bit About Pisco
IN the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But after such hard work, he was thirsty. And thus could think of nothing better than to create the grape and, from its fruit, make a fine spirit. He called it PISCO. And he saw that it was good. And it became the elixir of other gods. Later, he continued to entertain himself creating the animals, plants and the rest of the world.
Pisco is Peruvian. Trust me. Chile claims pisco, but their standards do not produce the elixir of the gods we've come to know and love in Peru.
Finding Pisco in the US is not the "wild goose chase" it once was, although you may not find a large selection of brands. Having done 3 month-long trips to Peru, we have had opportunities to taste many brands for purposes of this cocktail, whatever brand you are able to find will be fine!
One of our first stops when landing in Cuzco is the Museo del Pisco. You'll find a lot of interesting information on their website .
About Chicha Morada
If you follow Beyond Mere Sustenance, you may have seen a very recent post for Peruvian Chicha Morada (aka purple corn drink)? In short, chicha morada is the quintessential non-alcoholic beverage of Peru. Of course it's best when made "in house!"
My recipe for Peruvian Chicha Morada may require either ordering dried purple corn from Amazon , or doing some major shopping. With an Instant Pot, you can make a batch in about an hour that will provide about 5-6 cups of the lovely liquid for drinking over ice or included in other recipes.
I am currently working on a recipe for a traditional Peruvian Mazamorra Morada Pudding - a warm pudding with subtle spice and garnished with fresh fruit. I hope to play with a frozen ice cream or sorbet before the summer is over. 😃
10 new ways to enjoy a Pisco Sour
It’s Pisco Sour Day again, and to celebrate we’ve made a compilation of our favorite Pisco Sour creations that have been going around the web lately. We love it when people get creative with our favorite national drink, and we hope you find in them new fun and delicious ways to enjoy your Pisco.
- Here’s Bobby Flay’s Pisco Sour Sangria. Can’t wait to try this one!
- These Pisco Sour Cocktail Marshmallows are a molecular mixology creation, and give a whole new meaning to this classic childhood sweet.
- Get any party started with these Pisco Sour jelly shots that are almost too pretty to eat.
- Got a sweet tooth? Why not put cocktails and dessert together, with this easy Pisco Sour Sorbet(no ice cream maker needed).
- Here’s another delicious and sweet way to celebrate Pisco Sour Day: Pisco Sourcupcakes. One word: YUM!
- San Francisco bartender TonyDevencenzi, creates my ideal girly cocktail: Strawberry-sage Pisco Sour.
- Combine Pisco, orange liqueur, grape juice and Pinot Noir, for a fruitySideways Sour.
- A subtle change goes a long way in this Pisco Sour with rose water.
- Pack your Pisco Sour with nutrients by adding someAcai Berries to it.
- Got a Brit in you? Don’t pass on the tea (or the cocktail) with this Oolong Tea infused Pisco Sour.
And of course, don’t forget to go back to our Pisco Sour coconut tart, to all the exciting cocktails that were created last last year at the Macchu Pisco Sour contest, and if you want to honor the original, timeless Pisco Sour, here’s our classic recipe.
And as we say in Peru, p’arriba, p’abajo, p’al centro, y p’adentro!