The pisco sour is a cocktail that features pisco, a type of brandy that comes from Peru and Chile. The colorless spirit is distilled from grapes that come from the large wine-making regions in both Peru and Chile. While most brandies are aged in some kind of oak, one of the rules in pisco production is that it cannot be aged in wood at all. The spirit has a hint of natural sweetness to it that comes from the flavors of the grapes used to produce it – and you can actually tell one from another if you taste a lot of pisco! Pisco can be enjoyed in many ways, but it is most often served up in a Pisco Sour. This cocktail is very tasty and a great way to start enjoying pisco in the first place.
As a sour, the cocktail only has a few ingredients: pisco, lemon juice, sugar and an egg white. The sugar comes in the form of a simple syrup made with equal parts sugar and water. The egg white is added to the drink for body, giving the cocktail a velvety mouthfeel and rounding out the flavors of the citrus and the spirit. To get the right consistency on the egg white, you need to do what is known as a “dry shake.” Unlike other cocktails, where all the ingredients are combined with ice and then shaken, this one requires you to shake the ingredients without ice first. Holding tight to your shaker and giving it a very vigorous shake before adding in any ice will foam up the egg white and give your drink the perfect texture when it is finished.
A pisco sour is often garnished with a few drops of Angostura bitters. The bitters give the drink a slightly spicy aroma when you lift the glass to take a sip. It may sound a little unusual to garnish a drink with bitters when they are so often used as an ingredient, but you can do it here thanks to the egg white in the sour. The foamy, meringue-like top layer of the cocktail is thick enough to support a few red drops of bitters. I try to sprinkle them evenly around the top of my drink, then use a straw (or a toothpick will work!) to swirl the drops to create little hearts, just as I might do when icing a cookie.
1 large egg white
2 1/2 oz pisco
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1 mix of sugar and water)
4-6 drops Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds. Open the shaker and fill with ice. Shake again until cold, then strain into a cocktail glass. Drop a few drips of bitters on top of the cocktail and swirl them gently into the foam using a cocktail straw or a toothpick.