Peruvian Delight

By Paul Nelson

One of the things you learn by making your own drinks is to keep your eyes and ears open for new concoctions. You find recipes in all sorts of places: magazines, newspapers, and online. But the best is when you actually enjoy a drink somewhere else and then figure out how to make it for yourself (at a fraction of the cost).

So it was that a decade or more ago as we slogged through our time in St. Louis for seminary, my wife and I dined in a little Peruvian restaurant. Since then, they’ve done well for themselves and moved to a nicer location, but what mattered back then was precious time alone and a little cocktail called the Pisco Sour. It sounds exotic, tastes fantastic, and will impress your friends and family with its international flair.

Pisco is a grape brandy produced in Chile and Peru. Of course, there is a rather heated debate between the two countries on which region produces the better pisco. You may have to hunt around for a place that stocks it or will order it (for a while, at least, Trader Joe’s sold it). You won’t typically find it in the liquor aisle of your local grocery store. Finding a really good liquor store is an important thing if you want to branch out from the most basic of cocktails and ingredients.

  • 2 oz. pisco
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. purified water
  • 1 tbsp. sweetener (I prefer honey, simple syrup, or agave syrup)
  • 1 egg white
  • dash of bitters (I use Angostura)

Combine all of the ingredients except the bitters in a shaker and shake vigorously for one to two minutes. This ensures that the honey/agave syrup dissipates fully into the drink and that the egg white has time to whip up. Fill a glass with ice and pour the contents of the shaker over the ice. The egg white should create a thick foam that rests on the top of the drink. Add a dash or two of bitters to the top of the egg foam. This is a Peruvian style pisco, if that matters to you. Chilean pisco sours don’t use bitters.

Adjust the sweet and sour elements to your liking. I usually use half a lemon’s worth of juice (or a whole lemon if it’s small). The drink should be balanced between the sweet and sour flavorings, favoring the sour slightly.  Enjoy!