Pisco Sour Cocktail

This slightly tart and foamy drink is the national drink of Peru, and very popular in Chile as well.  If you’ve ever traveled to either of those places, you may well have come back with a serious pisco sour affinity. Now, get ready to give this simple drink a whirl at home!

Pisco Sour

What is Pisco?

Pisco is a South American brandy, much different from the brandy most of us envision when we hear the word.  It is colorless or a pale yellow, distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice. A pisco sour is the most popular pisco-based drink.  

According to the Fire of Peru, a terrific cookbook from Ricardo Zarate and Jenn Garbee, the grape-based spirit was originally called aguardiente de uvas, or grape firewater.  The name Pisco stuck when the the port in Ica, the main grape growing region south of Lima, became “the main portal where the grape spirit was exported around the world.  It was called the port of Pisco.”  The spirit has long been popular in California, San Francisco to be specific, beginning during the gold rush when sailors brought back the brandy from their South American travels.  

Pisco Sour with Prosciutto and Melon

Today lots of high-quality piscos are made in Peru and beyond.  In Peru, the distillation of these mosto verde-style piscos is highly regulated, much like the wine making industry in other parts of the world.

What Does Pisco Taste Like?

The best piscos have a clean bright flavor, and a broad range of grape aromatics, according to the Zarate and Garbee.  The aromas are complex, and the flavor is smooth, herbal and earthy.  Piscos go well with food.  There is a similarity to the flavor of some good tequilas in some instances.

Pisco Sour Ingredients

Pisco –Two popular high-quality brands are Campo de Encanto and BarSol. Ask at a good wine and liquor store for other recommendations!

Pisco Sour

Lime juice – you absolutely should use fresh lime juice here; the bottled just won’t do.  The vibrant tartness of fresh lime juice tastes so much cleaner than the pre-squeezed stuff, and since this is a cocktail made of very few ingredients, you want to take the time and squeeze fresh.  If you can find super tangy Peruvian limes, wow are you in luck!

Pisco Sour: How to make the classic shaken Peruvian cocktail at home!

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Pisco Sour

Why Are There Egg Whites in a Pisco Sour?

Egg whites add body and a creamy, silky texture to a drink, as well as cause it to foam in an appealing way.  If you are worried about possible bacteria in raw eggs, know that most mixologists believe that the lime juice and alcohol in the drink will kill any bacteria introduced by the raw egg white.  Plus, most eggs are pasteurized, so the risk of bacterial infection is very low to begin with.

Pisco Sour

What Kind of Bitters to Use in a Pisco Sour

Pisco sours are traditionally finished with a dash of bitters over the foamy drink.  Angostura is the most readily available type of butters, and those will work fine.  But if you are able to lay your hands on some Peruvian Amargo bitters, that is the type most commonly used in Peru.  

Pisco Sour

What Kind of Glasses to Use for Pisco Sours

You really have a lot of choices, but rocks glasses are the most typical vessel for pisco sours.   I like to serve pisco sours in coupe glasses.  The drink is typically served straight up, rather than over ice or on the rocks.  It gets quite chilled when shaken for a generous amount of time in a cocktail shaker with ice (as well as foamy!).

Pisco Sour

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Pisco Sour

How to make the classic shaken Peruvian cocktail at home!
Yield: 1 Person
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) pisco
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • ¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) simple syrup or agave
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 dash bitters


  • In a chilled cocktail shaker add the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup or agave and the egg white. Add a cup or so of ice to the shaker and continue shaking until the mixture is very cold, and foamy, 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a rocks or coupe glass, then immediately add a dash of bitters to the top and serve cold.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 214kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 68mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 14IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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