Pisco Sour Cocktail

By Robert Hess

A favorite from Peru is becoming an international favorite as well. This luscious drink is easy to make and provides a great introduction to Pisco, a type of brandy made in South America.

Recipe

Ingredients

3:1:1 Ratio

2 oz Pisco

3/4 oz fresh lime juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

1 egg white

Instructions

Dry shake to emulsify.

Add ice.

Shake to chill.

Serve in Pisco Sour glass with a dash of Angostura Bitters.

Comments
Richard E. Melgarejo Antezana 28 Jan 2008
1:32 pm

Hi Robert! I’ve had the chance to see your video about how to prepare pisco sour. Well, I’m a professional bartender in Per

Martin Doudoroff 28 Jan 2008
1:40 pm

It’s truly remarkable how reliably dissenters come popping out of the woodwork any time a Pisco Sour recipe is presented. Do Peruvians and Chileans argue as much amongst themselves about these drinks as they do with us gringos? Egad.

joshua 28 Jan 2008
2:59 pm

Perhaps what Peruvians apparently call ’ lime ’ is something similar to the delicious meyer lemon which is definitely like a sour orange and is something I can totally eat whole and enjoy.

To the pro peruvian bartender - what “standard proportions” do you suggest ?

donbert 28 Jan 2008
3:18 pm

what’s your simple syrup ratio indicative of ?  i only know of simple syrup as water and sugar.  curious what the 3rd part is and if that’s why your syrup has a brown tint to it ? 

if you pause on 1:22 you see Bob is using a Quebranta however I think that freezing the glass is both unnecessary, impractical and cheesy.  It’s served cold and if you are in such a hot climate then that you worry about it, I suggest drinking faster.  Or perhaps go the southern route and serve in a silver mint julep glass.

Small Screen Colin 28 Jan 2008
3:29 pm

donbert,

The ratio applies to the whole drink recipe not just the simple syrup. Back in another episode (I do not recall which at the moment) Robert discusses what ratio he uses in creating his simple syrup. I will let him explain further about the type of sugar he uses.

Sorry about the confusion. I will change to reflect this better in the site.

Colin

Brian Dressler 28 Jan 2008
4:11 pm

Robert explained his simple syrup on the episode for the Daiquiri Cocktail - There were also some comments back and forth discussing the different proportions

TheQ 29 Jan 2008
12:16 am

The

dimitar 29 Jan 2008
9:22 am

A lots of noise for that proportions! I personally like Dale’s 3/4-1-1 1/2 but that is my personal opinion.And something that i learned from Gary Regan-The right proportion is the one that your customer like!!! And about the creation of pisco Peru and Chile can claim for the name pisco only, because Muscat grape is from Europe and in the Black see region(Bulgaria,Romania) and Mideterian(Greece,Italy, France) were making brandy from muscat grapes many years before Chile and Peru were founded, and distilation was brought to them by Spanish and Portugese people. I used to have girlfriend from Chile and friends from Peru and have heard them so many times argueing about it.And all they had to do was to open wikipedia and search for muscat grape but they just prefer to argue about it over and over again…....

Owen Webb 29 Jan 2008
1:22 pm

So, are there any recomendations for commonly availible Pisco?

I’m in the Boston area if that helps.

Martin Doudoroff 29 Jan 2008
1:29 pm

Lots of info on Pisco on the wikipedia page. As you might expect, constituencies are fighting about perceived biases in the entry.

The good news is that the Pisco Sour is a truly great drink, and it can be a great drink with many different proportions and Piscos.

walter bauer 29 Jan 2008
6:25 pm

Since we import Inca Gold Pisco as www.incaspirits.com we were delighted with your recognition of pisco sour as an international favorite. Perhaps you will follow with pisco punch, an American classic of the late 1800’s in the gold rush days of San Francisco.      Walt Bauer

Robert Hess 30 Jan 2008
8:12 am

Sorry to slide into this discussion so late…

Richard, this video probably represents the first time a Pisco Sour has been made in the US using that particular Pisco (which currently is not imported into the US, it was hand-delivered by a good friend of mine, note my name on the label :-), using Peruvian bitters, and made in the recognized Peruvian Pisco Sour glass (also hand delivered by my Peruvian friend)... and yet you still find reason to complain… :->

The majority of Pisco we get in the US at the current time is pretty sad. And what is available to me here in Washington State is REALLY sad. The most common Peruvian Pisco I have access to is almost undrinkable. So normally we don’t really have the opportunity to be picky about if it is a “Quebranta” or not.

The ratios I’m using in this recipe (3:1:1) are ones which several Peruvian friends and bartenders have told me that they use, I find that it results in a wonderful balance, and in the end, that’s my main focus with any drink. Recipes can have a certain amount of wiggle room to allow for a little personal interpretation without turning them into a “new” drink. The “original” recipe for the Sidecar is “equal parts”, but nobody makes theirs that way. I make mine one way, and various other bartenders I know are firmly set on other ratios which they prefer, all of which make excellent drinks.

As for freezing the glass… one issue there, is that I don’t have a freezer where I’m filming :->

-Robert

Robert Hess 30 Jan 2008
8:15 am

Donbert… My preferred simple syrup ratio is 1 part water, 2 parts sugar. This is often referred to as “rich” simple syrup. The one you see me using here is “brownish” because I am using Demerara (aka “raw”) sugar, which I think provides just a little extra character.

Robert Hess 30 Jan 2008
8:21 am

TheQ… don’t be sorry for watching Martha, I watch her myself any time I get the chance. She may have her detractors, but I’m not one of them.

A friend from Peru was up in Seattle and I took him to the Zig Zag for cocktails, when he saw the lemons and limes behind the bar he was rather suprised at what they looked like, and indicated that in Peru, the “lemons” (ie. yellow citrus) were quite edible as-is. Totally different from the extremely tart fruit we have here.

I find the whole lemon/limon/lime issue quite facinating, it’s clear to me that there are varieties that others around the world are using which are quite different then what we commonly have here in the US. I’m traveling to South America in April, and specifically plan on taking a closer look at their fruit to better understand the differences.

-Robert

Robert Hess 30 Jan 2008
8:29 am

Owen,

Pisco availability appears to be a rather patchwork here in the US, with different brands popping up in different regions.

A brand which appears to be getting around a lot is BarSol, and it’s pretty good.

I’ve also tried Inca Gold, and like them too, but they are only availalbe in a couple of states so far.

Mike S. 30 Jan 2008
11:41 pm

Robert, are you willing to dish on name of that most common brand of Peruvian Pisco you find so undrinkable?  I have a couple in my collection, including Don Cesar and Montesierpe.  I like the former much better than the latter, but frankly don’t know enough about this spirit to know if either is any good.

Robert Hess 31 Jan 2008
3:51 pm

(Guacamayo Pisco)

S 1 Feb 2008
6:43 am

hey rob!
is it possible that the confusion of the lime/lemon thingey could have happened in other cocktails from other cultures?  fx the caipirinha??

Mike S. 1 Feb 2008
11:30 pm

Hm.  Never heard of it.  Perhaps that’s a good thing.

NN 2 Feb 2008
8:25 am

Hi! Here’s something: in Spanish, (different dialects notwithstanding), the word for lime is “limon agria”, or “sour lemon”. The best lime for bartending purposes is the Mexican lime, aka West Indian or Key lime (it’s the smaller kind of lime that’s full of seeds). It’s the most sour of all citrus fruit, hence the name, but it has that amazing “true” lime perfume that can’t be replaced!

Stevi Deter 28 Mar 2008
7:29 pm

A very nice recipe for the pisco sour, and I’m a bit difficult to please, having discovered the drink in Peru. I do think it may be a tad too sweet…mostly because it’s just too easy to drink at this sweetness!

I tried it first with the Guacamayo, which isn’t all that bad, if a tad too bland. I made it tonight with Don Cesar, and it’s much more flavorful. Which would echo what I’ve been told, that Pisco acholado (which is what the Don Cesar I found in Kirkland is) is preferable to Pisco puro (which is what the Guacamayo is) for a sour.

This also got me over my reluctance to make pisco sours in a shaker instead of a blender (even at the ranch I went to in Peru, they made it a blender, but they’d be making rounds of 10 or so at a time!). It takes a bit of shaking to get a nice foam, but it can be done, and the results are worth it.

Thanks for spreading the word about this great drink! Viva Peru!

Daniel Estremadoyro 14 Apr 2008
7:42 pm

So Mr. Doudoroff wants to know if we (chileans & peruvians) argue about pisco sour? well Martin, you only have to google “pisco sour” and see how we are saturating the cyber space with our non-sense chit-chat and mutual insults about this most-important-than-global-warming issue.
Posts like Richard

Karrie Dunning 5 May 2008
11:11 pm

Hi Robert,
That was very cool. Now I know alot more about the Pisco Sour than I ever expected to. Yes, my experience with this drink was when I spent time in Chile. ON the lemon/lime question…the only limes I ever saw in Chile were little round ones, like key limes.
Again, so good to see you,
Karrie

Robert Hess 6 May 2008
6:03 am

On my recent trip to South America I was paying attention to the citrus that was around… never saw a lemon, even though that’s what everyone was calling the limes that I did see. The “limes” were all small, not quite as small as the key limes we get up here, but like key limes they had seeds.

Funny thing was, that I was talking with my friend about making drinks, and naturally I was using the term “lime juice” to refer to their citrus. He said they were all out of lime juice at the moment, so I pointed to the “limes” he had on the counter… “oh, we could use limon juice instead?” :->... so what then was the “lime juice” he was refering to that he was out of? Come to find out that when they would see a “US” recipe calling for lime juice, they would figure what was intended was “Rose’s Lime Juice”... :-<

Daniel Werneck 20 May 2008
7:12 am

This whole lemon/lime problem won

ND 20 May 2008
7:23 am

Hi Daniel,

You’re right, it would be great to clarify all these lime issues! First off, though, it’s not a Tahiti Lemon, but a Tahiti Lime (the confusion probably comes in because, as I understand it, the Portuguese word for lemon and lime is the same

David 12 Jul 2008
2:04 pm

Unfortunally, in my trips to USA,  I couldn’t find any Pisco Sour with the same peruvian taste.  I wonder if this comes from the Lemon/Lime/Limon issue.

Felicitaciones Daniel, muy acertados tus comentarios.

Robert Hess 12 Jul 2008
6:23 pm

David,
I expect that your lack of finding a Pisco Sour here in the US had less to do with the lemon/lime/limon issue, then it does with the quality of the Pisco commonly available, as well as the lack of familiarity bartenders have with properly making this drink.

-Robert

Peter 25 Jul 2008
4:22 pm

So if I happen to be in Wash. and I am interested in making a quality Pisco sour, what should I do?

Robert Hess 26 Jul 2008
5:50 am

In Washington, we don’t currently have a regular supply of what I’d call a “quality” pisco. However if you live near Kirkland, stop in at their liquor store, since they have a supply of Cesar Pisco. It was part of a large special order made by a Peruvian restaurnat in Kirkland right before they went out of business. There are better Piscos out there, but I think this is the best we currently have access to in WA.

-Robert

Federico Cuco 24 Aug 2009
6:59 am

:)
Excellent chapter Robert.

Michael Simmons 15 Dec 2009
7:24 pm

Robert,  I have been going to Portillo, Chile for the last three years in Sept. to snow ski.  One night a week they have “Pisco Sour” night in the hotel.  I have been making them on return home using the Peruvian recipe.  I made a point to watch the bartender make the Pisco using the Chilean receipe.  They make it in a blender and instead of simple syrup they use powdered sugar.  They also do not use egg whites.  (I prefer the egg white).  A Chilean native recommeded Alto Del Carmen (in the black box) as the finest Pisco made in Chile.

Bill Suechting IV 6 May 2010
4:03 am

Good morning,

My name is Bill Suechting IV and I work for a company in Peru called World Trade Center Peru.  We export many different Peruvian products.  We have a variety of different Piscos from top to mid mid grade.  We can also have a the bottles labeled if you would like it to have your name.  Apart from the Pisco, we also export Peruvian wines.  Here is a link to the Pisco on our webpage: http://worldtradecenterperu.com/premium_pisco

Let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Regards,

Bill Suechting IV
World Trade Center Peru
www.worldtradecenterperu.com

chrishoy.biz 20 Oct 2010
7:25 am

Hi Robert

Firstly thanks for your video’s and education here on Small Screen, I find it a great tool to aid the training of our small portfolio of bar’s here in Birmingham UK. I have recently returned from 2 years living and working in Sydney and Melbourne and whilst I was out there there was a program on Foxtel at a mate’s house that followed a travel journalist going round I think it was Chile not sure ?? and they featured the Pisco Sour and it was served in what I can only describe as a kind of champagne flute which held the foam head extremely well, have you heard of this or can confirm ?

Many Thanks

Chris Hoy

Wes Neuenschwander 29 Oct 2010
7:33 am

Hi Robert,
Great site!  It appears the Washington State liquor stores now have a broader selection.  Perusing the Washington State Liquor Control Board website (), I found the following listed under “Pisco”:  ALTO DEL CARMEN PISCO RESERVADO, CAPEL PISCO RESERVADO, DON CESAR PISCO ESPECIAL, DON CESAR PISCO PURO, and GUACAMAYO PISCO PURO.  I’m not sure which of these you’ve had experience with, but would be interested in any impressions you might have of these, particularly for use in Pisco Sours.

Robert Hess 29 Oct 2010
8:01 am

Wes,
Yes, our selection of Pisco’s is indeed improving, with apparently even more on the way. Of the ones you list, they all make a great Pisco Sour, EXCEPT for Guacamayo… I can’t recommend that one at all. It’s pretty bad.

nicoyaru 6 Mar 2012
1:32 pm

Wes and Robert, im from chile, and let me recommend you Alto del Carmen, if you find it at black or white boxes, if you want to try it on the rocks, and for coctails, the other kinds of alto del carmen. Capel isn’t good so don’t event buy it. Now for the lemmon/lime issue, at least here there are limes which aren’t sour at all, and lemmons. For the lemmons you can find the “limon sutil” which is the green one, and the regular lemmon which are yellow like limes. if you want to, google for “Limon Sutil” ( sutil lemmon ) and you should find the green ones. hope you to understand me hehe, bye bye

Benjamin D. 2 Feb 2013
10:07 am

When I was living in Mexico, I had the hardest time finding what we call lemons. I asked all of my students where I could find lemons and they were just as confused as I was. I described them and they instructed me to go to the local market where, they assured me,I would find them. What I found was something they called a lima. It was yellow alright but it sure as hell was not a lemon. Desperate, I bought it anyway and saw what it could do. It must be this fruit Robert’s friend was talking about. It was slightly sweet and not too powerfully acidic; subtle even. Months later, I finally found what I was looking for. Believe it or not, it was at Wal-Mart; the first place I should have looked. And sure enough when I checked out the label: product of the U.S.A. It seems that lemons are just as mysterious to those South of the border as limas are to us.

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