Peruvians and Chileans have fought for centuries over who makes better Pisco and who made it first. We don’t have time for an essay on the debate and, suffice to say, both countries make good examples the spirit that was created by Spanish settlers to the region.
Using grapes specifically intended for the brandy-like spirit, each country has its own set of rules that govern the production and ensure quality. There are many similarities – the primary one being the distillation method, via which both are distilled in pot stills. This helps to retain flavour and deliver a better quality spirit. It retains a colourless characteristic as it is not aged in wood, but rather rested before bottling, which has to be done in glass or stainless steel.
While Pisco can be enjoyed on its own, as Peruvian and Chilean traditionalist often do, it’s best put to use in a Pisco Sour. This is a simple cocktail, but really shows the Pisco’s true colours as a great spirit.
Peruvians celebrate Pisco Sour day every February, with everyone required to finish their drinks as a mark of respect. A good Pisco Sour should comprise fresh lemon juice, sugar and egg white. It should be served straight-up in a martini glass or coupette with a dash of bitters for aromatics on the top. Whether you choose Peruvian or Chilean, we’ll leave that act of diplomacy squarely in your hands.
25ml lemon Juice
20ml sugar syrup (substitute a spoonful of sugar for a rustic version, alter to taste)
1 egg white
Shake all the ingredients together without ice (this helps the egg white to emulsify and give you the requisite fluffy head). Add the ice and double strain the drink into a martini glass. Finish with a few drops of Angostura bitters on the foam.