Saturday, February 4, Peru celebrates the 10th national Pisco Sour Day. Pisco Sour is the Peruvian national cocktail based on the national firewater, Pisco. A Pisco sour is made out of Pisco, lime juice, sugar, ice and whipped egg white. It is a typical aperitif and welcome drink in Peru. When on a vacation in Peru visitors will get offered several and most will decline close to none.
The liquor Pisco is made out of fermented white grapes that are grown for this reason all along the Peruvian Coast. Most can be found about 300 km South of Lima in the city of (with the surprisingly named!!) Pisco. Obviously it is here that the roots of this Peruvian liquor lie. In this region together with the neighboring Ica one can find the large majority of Pisco Bodegas. Nowadays Pisco is also being made in Lima, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna. Pisco was first distilled around the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish. They brought the first grapes to Peru and saw that due to the climate and the underground the grapes grew differently and were smaller in size. The taste was not ideal to make wine from and with new distillation techniques they a new product was born; Pisco.
Pisco became widely popular in Peru and Chile (even up to today there is a dispute between the two countries claiming to be the birth ground of Pisco) and especially in the Peruvian capital Lima. Lima was at the time the political and cultural centre of the Spanish conquistadores and played an important role in the newly established Spanish Viceroyalty. Nevertheless it was not until 1916 that the first Pisco Sour was mixed and served. Lima city center always has had a fair share of authentic bars that remind people of bars in 19th century Paris. In one of these bars, the Morris Bar –unfortunately closed for many years now- somebody came up with the idea of mixing Pisco with lime juice, sugar, ice and whipped egg white. As Lima in the summer suffers from a hot and dry climate, people always haven been open to new refreshing drinks and Pisco Sour hits the spot. It grew rapidly in popularity and the recipe got passed on to several of the high class hotels of the time in Lima, the most famous being the Hotel Bolivar. The bar in Hotel Bolivar is the only one still existing with the original bar and therefore claims to be THE bar to sip away on a Pisco Sour. And credit to them, they make a delicious cocktail and sitting on the outside terrace of the hotel bar one does really get a feel of what Lima must have been like in the beginning of the 20th century.
Nowadays, Pisco Sour is a cocktail widely popular in Peru and a few good restaurants will offer you one as an aperitif before dinner. It is a small tasteful aperitif that refreshes a lot more than one would think by just looking at it. Pisco Sour became so popular and such a part of Peruvian culture that in 2007 the Peruvian National Cultural Institute (INC) declared Pisco Sour to be officially part of Peru’s National Cultural Patrimony.
So if discovering Machu Picchu, marveling at the beauty of the Amazon Rainforest, or enjoying the mouthwatering Peruvian cuisine was not enough reason to visit Peru, than maybe some glasses of Peruvian National Patrimony may do the trick for you…
Here is a recipe in case you would like to give it a try;
3 Ounces of Pisco (Quebranta)
1 Ounce of Lime Juice
1 Ounce of Sugar Syrup (can be home made)
1 Whipped Egg White
5-6 Ice Cubes
Mix everything together in a shaker or blender and serve in small cocktail glasses without the ice. To finish put a couple of drops of bitter on top.
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