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Pisco Sour is the national drink of Peru and my favorite cocktail. It is always present at my family and friends’ affairs and at every Peruvian event. It is very simple to make and very refreshing.
Pisco is a brandy made from grapes grown in the coastal valleys surrounding the town of Pisco south of Lima and is a favorite of sailors and workers that visit the port. The name pisco originally comes from the Quechua (Andean language) word pisqu or little bird. The drink was developed during the viceroyalty of Peru when the Spaniards began to plant grapes to make and export wine. Grapes that did not meet their standards were discarded or given away to the farmers to do whatever they wanted with. The farmers called the grape quebranta (meaning broken or tamed), and they started to distill them to make pisco.
These days there are many type of grapes used to produce pisco, which account the differences in flavor, aroma and appearance. There are four types of pisco:
Pure should contain only one variety of grape, generally quebranta; it has a thick consistency and clear color with a smooth flavor;
Aromatic is made with Muscat and Italian Grapes; though with only one type of grape;
Mosto Verde (green must) is distilled from partially fermented must;
Acholado is becoming a favorite type used in the Pisco Sour due to its sweetness and great flavor, blended from the must of several varieties of grape.
There are many pisco bars in Lima, but one of the oldest and most famous is Antigua Taberna Santiago Queirolo founded in 1880 by an Italian immigrant named Santiago Queirolo Raggio who owned grape vineyards in Canete, a town south of Lima, and began selling his Pisco to adjacent farms and their workers. Today, the pisco brand Santiago Queirolo is one of the most well known and highly regarded producers in Peru. You can buy this brand of pisco at any liquor store or online.
There has been a dispute for years between Peru and Chile as far as which country should take ownership of pisco. Both countries have been growing grapes for pisco since they were one country during the Viceroyalty. However there is a big difference in the production process of Chilean pisco in comparison to Peruvian pisco. Chilean pisco is not pure, is aged for a short time and is diluted with water altering the quality of the drink. Peruvian pisco is always aged for a minimum of three months and produced without additives, never altering the quality of the drink. Can you tell which one is better? Of course Peru!!! Pisco is from Peru….El Pisco es Peruano!
There are many drinks and cocktails made from pisco, the most well known being the Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru (my recipe will be in the next post) as well as Chilcano de Pisco, made with pisco, ginger ale and lime juice, the Algarrobina Cocktail, made with algarrobo tree syrup, as well as other cocktails with strawberry, aguaymanto (gooseberry) and just about any fruit you can think of.
Makes 4 servings
8 oz Pisco
3 oz lime juice
½ cup simple syrup
1 egg white
Place the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup in a blender and mix for 10 seconds. Then add the egg whites and ice cubes and blend for 30 seconds. Top with a couple drops of Angostura bitters and serve immediately. For large batches, a common way to make Pisco sour is 3 parts pisco, 1 part lime juice and 1 part sugar syrup.
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