In an effort to explain the significance of the pisco sour, I provide below a recipe for the drink that I had published in the International Cookbook for AU's International Student and Scholar Services office. (Please feel free to order the cookbook, which has been created to raise funds for an emergency fund for international students on campus, something greatly needed. Not only does the book make a great stocking stuffer, but you'll find a whole menu that I've come up with with Peruvian food.)
Pisco sours also make a great drink for Thanksgiving, as would making the stuffing infused with some pisco, as I did a few years ago. If I only knew the president would have partaken with us, I would have invited him over for dinner!
Submitted by Jeffrey Middents, Assistant Professor of Literature
History tells us that the War of the Pacific ended in 1883, but disputes linger on over 100 years later. The northern territory claimed by Chileans in the middle of the Atacama desert turned out to be very rich in nitrates, copper and saltpeter – and happened to be a wonderful growing area for grapes. Today, Chile is internationally recognized for alcoholic beverages made from grapes, including a lucrative wine industry and, recently, pisco. Peruvians would claim otherwise: a very potent type of brandy distilled from grapes, pisco has historical connections to many areas of southern Peru, including Chicha, Ica, Arequipa, Lima, Tacna and – not so surprisingly – Pisco. Although both countries now make pisco, there are subtle differences, primarily involving how long the fermented drink is aged. Although Peru has filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization for proprietary rights to the drink, it may still be easier to find Chilean pisco in the United States. As a Peruvian, I would disapprove and tell you to purchase it online... but if don’t tell your guests, they’ll never know.
The pisco sour is a very simple drink to make, and a favorite among tourists. I will warn you that its taste similar to lemonade masks the very potent alcohol. Being American and not knowing the Peruvians are notorious for starting everything late, my father mistakenly arrived on time for a function in his honor held in Peru in the 1960s and started drinking this tasty concoction – only to find he had become rather inebriated by the time the event got under way. (Thankfully, he didn’t make a scene.) The recipe I am providing here is a more traditional preparation; in a rush, my good friend Barbara says that substitute limeade concentrate for the limes and sugar syrup works just as well. The general proportions are 3 parts pisco for 1 part juice and 1 part sugar syrup.
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 7 ½ oz. pisco*
- 1 egg white
- 2 ½ oz. key lime juice
- Ice, lots of it
- Angostura bitters (optional)
- Combine sugar in a small saucepan with just enough water to moisten it. Heat over very low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
- Add the lime juice and pisco to the still warm sugar syrup and beat quickly until everything is mixed well. Put into blender and add enough ice to double the volume.
- Blend at high speed for approximately 30 seconds, until the ice has broken up. Add the egg white and blend for one minute. There will be a signature foam on top of the liquid. Add more sugar if you’d like a sweeter
- Serve in old fashioned or white wine glasses immediately. If desired, place a drop or two of bitters as a garnish on top of the foam in each glass.