Welcome to the last part of our fantastic series about this spirit from the heavens: Pisco. Today will be all about cocktails. Mixing drinks with Pisco is a delight, you have to try it! The following drinks are well known in Peru, but you’ll probably never heard about them in Belgium, well except for the most famous one of course. Let’s start with that one: The Pisco Sour!
Everybody knows Pisco Sour, but strangely not everybody has tried one already ( in Belgium that is, not Peru). Invented in the roaring twenties in capital city Lima by Victor Vaughen Morris in his own bar (Morris Bar Est. 1916). Invented is probably a big word here, Victor must have been one of the first Americans in Lima, starting his own bar, that knew how to mix drinks and did nothing else than make the recipes he was familiar with (whisky sours, rum sours, gin sours, …), yet substituting the local spirit for the ones they used in the States. Morris didn’t invent the ‘Sour’, he just made one with the very popular national spirit. It is said that Mario Bruiget added the egg white and bitters, which is possible, but it is not exactly an invention. Anyway, what we do know for sure is that it tastes fantastic and it became very popular in the States during the ’40s and the ’50s. It is said that the famous actress Ava Gardner was once carried back to her room in the Bolivar Hotel by none other than John Wayne after too many Pisco Sours. Hemingway and Orson Welles just referred to it as “the Peruvian drink”.
Below is our recipe (as good as any) for a Pisco Sour:
- 5cl Pisco puro Quebranta
- 2cl Peruvian Lime juice
- 1cl Peruvian cane sugar syrup
- 1 egg white
- Amargo Chuncho bitters
Put everything except the bitters in a shaker and shake hard for ten seconds, then add ice cubes and shake again for ten seconds. Double strain in cocktail coupe and add three drops of bitters to the foam on top of the cocktail. Cheers!
Also quite an old classic in Peru, but still served a lot. It’s actually nothing more than a ‘Buck’ made with Pisco, but as you’ve probably guessed: it’s delicious. And simple, just pisco, lime juice and ginger ale over ice cubes.
- 5cl Pisco Mosto Verde of any grape you like
- 2cl Peruvian lime juice
- 10cl ginger ale
Pour everything in a Collins glass over ice cubes, stir very shortly and serve.
The El Capitan is a simple pisco, red vermouth and Angostura bitters combination, much like the well known Manhattan. Only it tastes much differently as you can imagine, much loftier so to speak. The recipe is also subject to endless variation as I experienced myself in the Country Club in Lima, where they added Fernet Branca in stead of Angostura, turning it in a Peruvian Hanky Panky as it were. Very yummy, by the way.
As to the origins of the cocktail? Shrouded in history I’m afraid. Some say it was invented after the great Italian immigration wave of 1854, which we believe to be highly unlikely, which would explain the presence of vermouth in Peru.
- 5cl Pisco
- 2cl red vermouth
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice cubes, stir for some 30 seconds and strain in an antique champagne coupe. Add an orange twist as a garnish and enjoy.
Another emblematic pisco cocktail and very famous – at least in San Francisco where it was invented somewhere between 1853 and 1919 in the Bank Exchange Bar & Billiard Saloon. It was presumably invented by Duncan Nicol, the last proprietor of the bar and we basically don’t know what was in it, except for pisco of course. Duncan took the recipe to his grave. Now there’s a bunch of wild stories and conjectures about the Pisco Punch, but the few things everybody agrees upon are the following: besides pisco it probably contained pineapple in some form, sugar, citrus juice and water. We do lack some spice here to call it a Punch so suggestions vary from nutmeg to cloves and even cocaine to beef up your punch.
We liked the following recipe:
- 6cl pisco mosto verde Italia
- 2cl Peruvian lime juice
- 1,5cl Pineapple gum syrup
- top up with pineapple water (Chicha de Pina)
Add first 3 ingredients in a shaker filled with ice cubes and shake firmly for 10 seconds. Strain in Collins glass filled with ice cubes and top up with Chicha de Pina.
Is actually a pisco eggnog with a Peruvian twist, well besides the pisco we mean. It’s the use of algarrobina syrup, which is the natural juice of a algarrobina tree which grows in Peru and the Mediterranean ( we know it as ‘Johannesbroodboom’). It has a distinct malty, bitter-sweetness and it was used to replace cacao in some dishes.
The cocktail is creamy sweet and traditionally drunk on Christmas Eve.