Pisco Sour – Classic Recipe & History

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Pisco Sour

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Course: DrinksCuisine: Peruvian






Total time



Learn how to make the a classic Pisco Sour.


  • 1 Whole 1 Egg White

  • 2/3 oz 2/3 Lemon Juice

  • 1/2 oz 1/2 Simple Syrup

  • 2 oz 2 Pisco Sour

  • 2 dashes 2 Angostura Bitters


  • Technique: Saxe Soda Shake
  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  • Add one medium or two small ice cubes to the cocktail shaker and shake till the ice has fully melted.
  • Without a strainer, pour the chilled and aerated drink into a cocktail glass.
  • Garnish:
  • Angostura bitters drops on top


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The History Of The Pisco Sour.

There is a debate whether the Pisco Sour was invented in Peru or Chile, and it has merit. Both Peru and Chile argue who created Pisco in the first place, and while similar drinks may have been made around the same time in both areas, the recipe that is considered canon was invented in Lima, Peru, in the 1920s by Victor Morris. Victor Morris was most likely making a sour with egg whites and using the local spirit pisco as the base, an American immigrant living in Peru. He also is most likely the actual inventor of this cocktail. Mixing drinks in this style was an American and British way of making drinks. The local Peruvians or Chileans were most likely drinking their pisco straight.

What Does The Pisco Sour Taste Like?

Many Americans have not heard of the Pisco Sour or even know what Pisco is, for that matter. Pisco is typically an unoaked brandy from Peru and Chili. Both countries claim to have invented it, but no one knows who made it first. Most likely, both counties distilled wine and made Pisco around the same time. Pisco is a beautiful spirit that tastes like a cross between brandy and vodka. Pisco has the standard brandy notes of grape and earthy red wine flavors but lacks the vanilla oak flavors of French or American brandy. Since it is not aged, it has a much drier taste, too, similar to vodka. Traditionally it is sipped neat so the subtle flavors can be savored.

The Pisco Sour tastes like a drier whiskey sour with egg whites. (I prefer to call a whiskey sour with egg whites a Boston Sour). The part that is concerning for most people before trying a Pisco Sour is its knowledge of egg whites. When people hear eggs, they think of scrambled eggs but should be comparing them to a meringue; when shaken vigorously, the egg whites foam into a sweet cocktail infused with divine meringue. Not only is this a good-tasting cocktail, but it’s also amazing.

How To Order a Pisco Sour.

This isn’t really a cocktail you can just order anywhere. This maybe one you end up making at home more often than not. Most normal bars won’t make this for you or they won’t even have Pisco stocked. The Pisco Sour can be ordered at either: 1) A high end craft cocktail bar. 2) Bars that make other cocktails with egg whites. 3) A bar with the Pisco sour on the menu obviously. 4) A Peruvian or Chilean restaurant. And again there is no harm in politely asking if the bartender can make one.

How To Get Great Foam On Cocktails With Egg Whites.

Egg Whites are challenging to get right in cocktails. Everyone struggles with them at some point, and bartenders search for any way to make whipping them into a fluffy meringue easier. Henry Ramos hired “shaker boys” to shake for him. Some use the dry shake or reverse dry shake, others swear by only using one large ice cube, and some say you have to shake till your arms fall off. The method I like is called the Saxe Shake, and De Forest Saxe invented it in the 1880s.

The Saxe Shake is largely unknown in the cocktail world because De Forest Saxe was a soda fountain operator in Chicago, Illinois. His 1890 book “Saxe’s New Guide Hints to Soda Water Dispensers” details his shaking technique for egg drinks that produces the best foam and can be accomplished with minimal effort. Saxe states to shake drinks with eggs with only one chestnut-sized ice cube. An Ice cube from a standard ice tray is about chestnut-sized, so one or two small cubes will work. Then shake until the ice fully melts, and pour into the serving glass without straining. The small amount of ice is just enough to cool and dilute the drink, and since there are no remaining bits of ice left in the shaker, there is nothing to strain. Passing the mixture through a strainer destroys most of the bubbles you worked so hard to make. As you add soda water, the escaping carbon dioxide fills the tiny bubbles in the drink, forcing them to expand and form a large fluffy foam. Give it a try. Using the Saxe Shake, I have turned out Ramos Gin Fizzes as fast and efficiently as any other shaken cocktail with excellent results.

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