top of page

Pisco Sour


A classic sour from Peru with many subtle variations

Well it's only been like 3 ½ years, so I don't wanna overpost... But seriously I've been researching, tasting, testing and creating many many MANY cocktails during my absence! Most of them are saved on my go-to cocktail website Kindred Cocktails. I'm trying to get an embedded feed of all the cocktails that I've personally tasted and rated on there but that function is no longer working. In the meantime I plan on back-dating a bunch of my favorites from the last few years so keep checking back as I fill in the gap between this post and January 2019! Okay obviously I could blame the pandemic but let's face it, I was stuck in lockdown and had nothing else to do so I could have done it then. But I didn't.

Meanwhile, in the past few weeks I got my Bartender/Mixology certification from the New York Bartending School (whatever that means). I also got the TIPS Alcohol Awareness certification and took a food handler course. Now I just need a fucking job! Perhaps I shouldn't curse so much if I want to work somewhere more upscale than your average sports bar.

* 2022 update: I got a job at a great restaurant with craft cocktails and super fun people to work with!

** 2024 update: The restaurant closed due to a clueless owner who expected to become a millionaire in the first 2 years.

So now on to another classic cocktail. We start with Pisco, a clear brandy made from fermented grape juice, originally made with grapes left over from wine production. Like most unique and interesting spirits there is a long history in its development. As with many other unique spirits (such as Cognac), Pisco has a specific denomination of origin (DO), which in this case is still hotly debated between Chile and Peru, each with their own seemingly legitimate claim. It's not quite like any other brandy because of it's specific use of ingredients and process. The most famous and highly regarded cocktail that uses Pisco as its base is the Pisco Sour.

This is a drink that I've made many times and in various forms and I decided to make it again during my week of bartending school. I looked up the recipe in my handbook, but I felt like it used too much sugar. There are many variations listed on various websites that claim to have the "original" recipe, but using slightly different proportions and some even use lemon instead of lime. It seems most likely that the "real" original uses more sugar than I prefer, so I decided to make one that stuck to the classic sour 4:2:1 ratio. Who knows if it's the original or not because as with many great cocktails from 100+ years ago, the origins are a bit murky and up for debate. I've gone back and forth on this and I think the final word for me is to up the sugar to 3/4 oz. rather than the 1/2 oz. that would be the 4:2:1 ratio. Also, the lemon/lime debate keeps going. My current bar manager insists I use lemon. I liken lime, but as with all citrus fresh squeezed makes more of a difference than the actual fruit. Then there's this guy who splits the citrus into 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime. Like most cocktail youtubers he takes too long to get to the point but he does have some nice stories and more of the "thinking" part that I like. I'll have to try that sometime. They're all pretty similar, but mostly it's about the sweet/sour balance and is really a matter of personal taste. You may want to double the sugar, or feel free to adjust to your liking:

  • 2 oz. Pisco

  • 3/4 oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup (or just use a teaspoon of raw sugar and muddle with lime)

  • 1 egg white

  • 3 drops Angostura bitters

Dry shake, then add ice, shake, double strain, serve up. Garnish by adding 3 drops of Angostura bitters in a row or triangle on top of the foam and optionally swirling through them with a toothpick (I need to work on that as you can see). Another option is to do a reverse dry shake where you first shake everything but the egg white with ice. Then strain it into another shaker without ice, add the egg white and dry shake, then pour without straining. This can produce a much frothier foam.



bottom of page