Peru and the Perfect Pisco Sour Recipe

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Eating and drinking local cuisine is one of my favourite ways to discover. But doing it with locals is best, this time in Lima I learned a great pisco sour recipe.

I didn’t know anyone in Lima and was a bit lonely so I looked on couchsurfing to see if they had any events. But I was in luck as local couchsurfers offered to show visitors how to make pisco sours on the weekend.

I have so many great memories of magical nights that started with aguardiente and other drinks in Colombia. Now it was time for Peru!

But pisco sour in Peru is a different experience. Pisco is not a shot in a salsa club, but something to enjoy with friends. And my first taste of pisco sour was with new Peruvian friends and other travelers.

 

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I met up with some people from Couchsurfing who offered to take a group travelers on a free day tour, and maybe I’d learn some local Peruvian slang?

Who passes up a local tour?

After a few hours of seeing downtown Lima we decided to go back to their house and try our hand at making pisco sours. After all, it is known as one of the best cocktails around the world.
 

Another couchsurfer from Argentina, who was willing to squeeze all the lime juice.

What is Pisco?

Latin America is known for its sugar cane alcohol, mostly rum and then aguardiente. And then for its wine in Chile and Argentina.

But pisco is neither and it is actually a brandy made from grapes in Peru. Pisco is usually colourless or a pale yellow if it is Chilean pisco, which is aged in barrels.

It is a great in so many cocktails, whether elaborate like the pisco sour recipe or simple like the chilcano.
 

THE “OTHER” PISCO COCKTAIL:  The Chilcano

Pisco isn’t an alcohol native to Peru, the Spanish colonists created it in the mid 1700s as they realized they could distill Peruvian grapes. 

The Spanish were already producing orujo in Spain, a brandy made from what remained of the grape after making wine. So pisco was an easy transition.

The Spanish called it aguardiente de pisco because they wanted locals to understand it was like aguardiente, but not made from sugarcane.
 
 

 

 
 
Four pisco sours on a table, with a pitcher of the Peruvian cocktail in the background.

Today pisco is as serious to Peruvians as Spanish wine.

There are official Denomination of Origin departments. And to be called pisco it must be made in one of the 5 official regions and only in specific areas of those regions.

This isn’t a cheap spirit. It is produced similarly to single malt Scottish whisky.  In fact the good stuff is quite expensive if you know the right brands.

 

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Today pisco is quite popular as Peruvian food is the new hot cuisine, with everyone making Peruvian ceviche.

But back in 2011 when I landed in Peru I had never heard of pisco. And that is strange because Peru exports half its pisco, with more demand coming from Europe and the United States. 

I guess Canadians just haven’t caught on yet?

But I soon learned how important it was, eventually going on to work in a hostel bar, which was one of my best travel jobs.
 
 

Who Invented the Pisco Sour?

This is one of the greatest debates between Peru and Chile, with both claiming they invented the pisco sour recipe.

However, outside both countries it is widely believed that American Victor Morris invented the pisco sour. An expat in Lima, Peru he worked as a bartender and created this Peruvian cocktail in the 1920s.
 

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The Chilean pisco sour is very similar but has noticeable differences. It uses Chilean pisco and pica lime but it does not use egg white or Angostura bitters.

If you’re not in Peru it’s easy to find pisco at home, and if you need a reason the first Saturday in February is National Pisco Sour Day.
 

You’ll notice my glass is much larger…because it is the pitcher

How to Make a Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is so….simple. It’s not worth buying and takes only a minute with ingredients you already have at home.

Over medium-low heat put equal parts of water and white sugar into a saucepan and stir. Once the sugar has dissolved into the water remove from the heat and let cool.

If you like the pisco sour you can also use this recipe to make sours with other alcohol like this Boston Sour using whiskey or this Empress gin sour.
 
 

Peruvian Pisco Sour Recipe

Who would have thought just weeks after learning the classic pisco sour recipe I’d be working at a hostel bar in Cusco slinging maracuya pisco sours to travelers freaking out about having a life changing Machu Picchu experience…spoiler, it doesn’t exist

 

This is a simple pisco sour recipe that local Peruvians taught me in Lima, Peru.
Peruvian cocktail called Pisco Sour made of Pisco (Peruvian grape schnaps) lime juice syrup and egg white (Selective Focus Focus on the front glass rim)

Pisco Sour

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

A classic Peruvian pisco sour recipe with

Ingredients

  • 3 oz Pisco
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 2-3 drops Angostura bitters
  • dash of cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients into a shaker with ice and mix.
  2. Strain into a cup.
  3. Garnish with Agnostura bitters and a dash of cinnamon.

Notes

Some people prefer a sweeter cocktail and add a bit of simple syrup.

I've included Jarabe de Goma in the recommended products section as it's a common one in Peru.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 414Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 57mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 4g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although BaconisMagic.ca attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Join the Conversation

  1. Shannon O'Donnell says:

    You are luring me to South America with posts like this. Never had a pisco sour but really want to try one now! I like the end shot with you chugging the remnants – classy 🙂

  2. Love it! I love trying new and interesting drinks and this looks so tasty, with the cinnamon sprinkled on top

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The cinnamon really makes the difference, instead of mixing it in the drink you leave it on top to smell as you take a sip.

  3. Have you gotten into the debate about who created the Pisco Sour, Chile or Peru? My understanding is there is a bit of a rift between between the two countries about this.

    I had my first in Quito and loved it! I am looking forward to many more when I make it to Peru 🙂

  4. Seems to me that the hunk sqeezing the limes is a very important ingredient, no? Lovely company you found there, Ayngelina.

  5. Betsy Talbot says:

    And you were so dainty drinking pisco sours in public with us! 😉 Now we know the truth.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I just learned how to make the maracuya pisco sour, wait until you see me next time!

  6. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World says:

    Sounds delicious. The addition of the egg white is interesting — I have an aversion for raw egg. But I guess it makes the drink a little frothier/creamier?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The egg white lightens the drink making it quite frothy although you can get it without egg white.

  7. Sounds like you’re meeting good folk in Peru.

  8. Interesting! So does it taste eggy?

    1. Nope it’s just the egg white so you wouldn’t even know there was egg in it.

  9. Cathy Sweeney says:

    I’ve been wanting to try a pisco sour ever since I first heard of one. Thanks for the recipe! Love the photo with your amigas — wish I could have been there. Looks like a fun time.

  10. Got hooked on pisco sours on my recent trip to Chile. Normally I only drink wine but happy to make an exception with this drink.

  11. mmm! I’ve never tried a pisco sour, but I’ve heard a lot about them. Sounds delicious!

  12. This drink recipe couldn’t have come at a better time, it’s a balmy 50 degrees in Plymouth, Mass and the weekend is right around the corner. Thanks for sharing!

  13. jamie - cloud people adventures says:

    i miss pisco sours. why havent they made the international journey yet? i like the peruvian ones better than the chilean ones. contoversial!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I haven’t tried the Chilean ones, how are they different?

  14. Michael Figueiredo says:

    That sounds delicious, Ayngelina! I think I’m going to Peru with my sister next year so we’ll definitely have to try it. By the way, I love the new look of you site–it’s very bold and easy to read 🙂

  15. Love this! Sounds like a great day and interesting drink!

  16. Congrats on your first Pisco Sour – you’re no longer a virgin.
    Where to next after Lima? Sandboarding?
    Jasn

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Heading to Cusco, I think I may have missed the sandboarding and may have to backtrack!

      1. Yes! I highly recommend heading back to Huacachina for the sand dunes…though its the buggy RIDES up the dunes before you sandboard down them which make it such an amazing place! Arequipa is fantastic too…Oh – and if you do hike to Machu Picchu: I recommend the Salkantay Trek! Have fun…

  17. Oh man that looks really good right about now! I miss the pisco sours in Peru…they’re in my yummy but deadly drinks.

  18. The NVR Guys says:

    One of our all time favorite cocktails. We could not get enough when we were in Ecuador. In fact, we just had dinner at a friends house and she surprised with several rounds! Good friend, right?!

  19. I finally finished to read all your posts! I love your blog, you write in a way that is really easy to read and you talk about real experience, not just thing that you can read in a guide…

    I’m hooked… keep up the good work!

    And I’m so jealous. I’ve been living in Argentina for 5 years, but i’ve been studying here and I haven’t been able to see a lot of the country nor the continent. I went to Bolivia and Brasil and travelled a bit around in Argentina, but there is so much left to know and I would love to have the money and time(I’m still a poor student and I spent way to much time studying haha)) to get to know more… now I’m kind of doing this trough your writing

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks so much for reading, it means a lot to me. When I was studying I didn’t need to get to travel much either but be patient your time will come!

      1. I sure will try to make it happen!
        But I really don’t know if I could travel for such a long time all alone, it intrigues me, I still feel like a scared little girl haha

  20. Sounds like the perfect afternoon!! Yum!

  21. I love that last photo, super classy.

  22. Haha, I love the last picture too. Looks fun!

  23. Those look super tasty! Hopefully I’ll be able to bother you to teach me. 😛

  24. I soooooo could’ve used this when I came back from Peru last fall with a bottle of Pisco! I looked up recipe after recipe online to make a Pisco Sour myself to share with my friends, but none of them turned out as good as the real thing in Peru!

  25. Nice to see kitchen cabinet pisco sours! I normally drink them in bars, but making them in a plastic jug in the kitchen seems all the sweeter…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      and all the cheaper 🙂

      1. true dat!

  26. Great job swigging from the pitcher. I like it that way best too, yo;)

  27. Migrationology says:

    Hehe, I’m sure step #6 came as an honor!

  28. Aaron @ Aaron's Worldwide Adventures says:

    I love pisco sours, but raw egg, seriously?? What about all those warnings you see everywhere in the U.S. that warn against eating raw or undercooked eggs?

    (And yes, I fully realize that the U.S. tends to baby us, as watching unrefridgerated, fly-covered meat in Asian markets was jarring at first, though, when you really think about it, all the bacteria dies when it’s cooked, right…?

    1. I think you´ve answered your own question here. I´m Canadian but if I paid attention to all the warnings from the US government I wouldn`t have done half the things I´ve done or eaten half the foods.

      Each person has to be comfortable with their own actions and I´m perfectly comfortable eating raw egg white but if you are not you can get the pisco sour without it.

  29. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) says:

    I have never tried a Pisco Sour but I’m intrigued. Isn’t it weird drinking a raw egg white? Hopefully the alcohol kills any salmonella…

  30. Oh, I love me some pisco sours. Lima was the first stop on our RTW, and we were drinking these that very first day. Oh how I miss them!

  31. Dave and Deb says:

    we liked the Pisco Sour so much, we brought Pisco home with us. It was our favourite drink to make for friends when they came over. The egg always freaked everyone else, but that’s what makes it so foamy and yummy.

  32. Siddhartha Joshi says:

    Very nicely written post 🙂 I too would love to try this drink…btw I didn’t even know about it till I read your blog!

  33. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Haha, love it! Piscos are so yummy huh? I <3 CS'ers!

  34. Ah, how I loved Pisco sour in Peru! You can’t miss these local drinks that are so delicious and are great for socializing.

    I think you had the perfect combination there… Couchsurfing friends + Pisco sours = a great time!

    Love the way you end it by finishing the pitcher! 🙂

  35. I love that you are living the life you want to live! I have been doing the things that everyone (my mom/brother/gma) wants me to do! The job I should take, the man I should be with, the decisions of everyday life. You are lucky!

  36. Peter West Carey says:

    Ohhhh….I’m aching for Peru just a bit more now. Love the photos.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The food…the drink…there is so much to ache for!

  37. ah, we are such lushes. one day I hope to share a pisco sour with you. maybe followed by baloney and a tub of cool whip.

  38. I’ve added this my ‘must try’ cocktails list.

    Question: how was the hangover?

  39. South America ME says:

    Oh, the mighty Pisco Sour.
    An essential start to any restaurant meal or social gathering.
    Rob.

  40. joshywashington says:

    yummy! But can i just skip straight to step #5? 😉

  41. Très classe as they say en France (the last pic!). Pisco sours are on the menu for me with some ceviche in the next couple of weeks – fortunately we have a huge bottle of Pisco Neil brought home from Peru that needs finishing!

  42. That looks really delicious, haha you look like you can have another pitcher…. hahah. Thanks for the ingredients too.

  43. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    Pisco Soouurrss BOOOO!!! blah blarg blah. TEQUILA!!! arriibbaaa

  44. Cheryl Howard says:

    So yummy! My favorite drink from Peru.

    They sadly no longer offer pisco at the LCBO. 🙁

    Thanks for this post. Looks like you had great fun.

    It makes me long to return to Peru and drink some more pisco sours. 🙂

  45. Haha! Brilliant. 😀 Will have to try some of those.

  46. I have the fondest memories of Pisco sours. My first was after I had just disembarked from a week-long boat trip through the Galapagos. I had just arrived in Cuzco. My head was swimming (literally) from being on a boat so long, and with the altitude change, I wasn’t sure drinking was the best idea.

    Turns out I was wrong. It was a terrific idea and a visit I’ll never forget. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

    P.S. In my experience, Pisco sours do not taste as good as they do there. Can’t explain it. All the same ingredients, not the same taste.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes I don´t know if it´s the altitude or exhaustion but I suspect the piscos won´t be as sweet back in Canada.

  47. DTravelsRound says:

    Mmm. Sounds delicious! Love the step-by-step directions. I think we would have fun making some cocktails together! 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I´ll be at TBEX…

  48. These are potent! Had many slunky nights in Peru with Pisco Sours.

  49. Cornelius Aesop says:

    Oh Pisco how I remember you well. Too bad I didn’t think about it earlier there is a Pisco festival in the town of Pisco at the beginning of February.

  50. FearfulGirl says:

    Looks delicious, and I just happen to have a large, lime-squeezing Argentinean Couchsurfer ready to go. Now if only I could figure out what pisco is.

  51. Looks like an enjoyable afternoon there! My personal favorite from my time in Peru was the maracuya sour. Same as your recipe, but blend in some fresh maracuya (passion fruit).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I love maracuya sours! I´ve learned to make them while working at the hostel – so good!

    2. Shari French says:

      that sound delicious!!

  52. Justin Hamlin says:

    Aygelina.. darling.. you missed a very crucial step in your recipe.

    – repeat over and over again until the drunken tweets start!

    Great post and lived the pictures

  53. Pingback: Peru seduces with pisco sours
  54. Aww I as well remember the Pisco Sours well from my trip to Peru! And the ongoing battle between the Chileans and the Peruvians in regards to who makes the best pisco sour!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I know, I’m heading to Chile soon so I’ll be doing my best investigative work!

  55. Wow this drink sounds interesting!!

  56. Shari French says:

    WoW! I was wary of the cinnamon + citrus thing but wow! Makes all the difference. I used 1 egg white for 2 cocktails instead of a whole one for each drink, but it seems to give the same smoothness. This is wonderful. Thank you for a great recipe!

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