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The Origin of the Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour Cocktail

No visit to Peru is complete without stopping in at a Peruvian restaurant and trying a Pisco Sour, the country’s national drink. It is made from Peruvian pisco, lemon or lime juice, syrup, egg white, ice, and Angostura bitters. Common thought is that an American bartender, Victor Vaughen Morris, invented the drink at a bar he opened in Lima in 1916.

But, there is some thought that the original recipe was invented several years earlier. Franco Cabachi from Pitahaya Bar in Lima posted on social media a picture of a cocktail recipe from a 1903 Peruvian cookbook. The recipe is from Nuevo Manual de Cocina a la Criolla cookbook. Translated it reads “An egg white, a glass of Pisco, a teaspoon of fine sugar, and a few drops of lime as desired, this will open your appetite. Up to three glasses can be made with one egg white and a heaping teaspoon of fine sugar, adding the rest of the ingredients as needed for each glass. All this is beaten in a cocktail shaker until you’ve made a small punch.”

With the addition of ice and Angostura bitters, and using syrup instead of sugar, this recipe sounds like the basics for today’s drink. With the recipe’s appearance in a 1903 cookbook, there is the thought that the drink was actually inspired by the Whiskey Sour. First published in the 1887 “A Bartenders Guide,” it is possible that the bartenders at Morris’ bar were familiar with sours. Using their knowledge of earlier Pisco Sour recipes, and sours in general, they invented the current version.

While this history makes for interesting reading, there is nothing like tasting the real thing. Enjoy yours with your Peruvian food at La Costanera Restaurant, savoring this mix of Peruvian flavors.

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