After making literally hundreds of Pisco Sours in the past ten years, I’ve developed a recipe that I really like. Some may prefer their Sour sweeter, tarter, or stronger, and please feel free to adjust to your own personal taste. For my taste, the Pisco Sour should be sweet but quite tart, and you should be able to taste the Pisco. The classic Peruvian Pisco Sour calls for Pisco Quebranta (from 100% Quebranta grape), but I prefer to use a classic Pisco Acholado (typically a blend of Quebranta and Italia grapes – the Italia adds a pleasant citrus-floral note). Many use a blender, but this waters down your cocktail, so don’t use a blender unless you have to make a lot of Pisco Sours at the same time. Please read the notes on the ingredients at the end of this page. The quality and type of ingredients you use will have an impact on your cocktail!
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
Yields: 1 cocktail (10 ounces or 285 ml)
What you’ll need:
- 1/2 fresh egg white
- 1 ounce sugar syrup
- 2 ounces fresh key lime juice
- 3 ounces of the Pisco of your choice
- Ice cubes
- A cocktail shaker
- A cocktail strainer
- A 10-ounce rocks glass chilled in the freezer
- Angostura bitters, or other of your choice, for garnish (optional)
- Add the egg white and ice to your cocktail shaker. Cap and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. This is called a “dry shake” and will build the foam for your cocktail. You may not get a nice froth on top of the finished cocktail if you add all the ingredients at the same time. After shaking, your egg white should look like that in the photo below.
- Add the sugar syrup, key lime juice, and Pisco to the shaker. Cap and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. After shaking, the contents of the cocktail shaker should look like that in the photo below.
- Using the cocktail strainer to keep any large chunks of ice out of your glass, pour half of the cocktail into your chilled rocks glass. Stop, swirl the remaining cocktail left in the shaker to mix in any froth that has risen to the surface, and then pour the remaining cocktail to fill the glass to the rim. This recipe should fill your glass to the rim. (refer to video below).
- The traditional Pisco Sour cocktail is topped with a drop or a few drops of bitters. I personally don’t find that this adds anything to the cocktail except maybe an interesting dot of color on top of the foam.
A note about the ingredients:
- EGGS: Eggs are perishable and begin to lose their freshness very quickly after being laid. Use the freshest eggs possible as the whites begin to lose their firmness and you’ll have a more difficult time obtaining a good froth if you use older eggs. U.S. Grade AA eggs are less than a week old when sold; U.S. Grade A eggs are more than a week old but less than thirty days old when sold. I recommend always keeping eggs refrigerated as their quality deteriorates more quickly at room temperature. If you are concerned about salmonella bacteria in raw eggs, depending on where you shop you may be able to buy pasteurized egg whites in a carton. If you use pasteurized egg whites try using 1.5 tablespoons. You may need to use more if your first try doesn’t produce a creamy froth.
- SUGAR SYRUP: Please make your sugar syrup a day in advance so it will be at room temperature when you’re ready to prepare your Pisco Sour. The recipe provided here will make a strong syrup that won’t water down your cocktail.
- KEY LIME JUICE: In Peru, we use the “limón ácido” to prepare a Pisco Sour. In the United States these are called “Key Limes.” They are small and the juice is quite acid, much more so than their larger cousin, the Persian lime. If you can’t find Key Limes, and they can be very expensive in the United States, a very good substitute is using a blend of half lemon juice and half Persian lime juice. I’ve used this blend at several events in Switzerland, and the resulting Pisco Sour was very good indeed.
- ICE CUBES: The automatic ice maker in most home refrigerators produces very poor quality ice cubes. They are small and many times filled with tiny air bubbles (so they melt quickly and water down your drink), and sometimes sit in your freezer for weeks or months absorbing the aromas of other products stored with them. Invest in a silicone ice cube tray that will give you large ice cubes (1.5 inches/4 cm). Use filtered or bottled water. You’ll be astonished at the difference in quality, especially in drinks “on the rocks.” If you want to stockpile a larger quantity of ice cubes, store them in a Ziploc® or other resealable plastic bag.