Pisco is a high-proof spirit made from carefully selected grapes. It was created to replace orujo - a distilled liquor that Spanish settlers had brought with them to the New World. Both Chile and Peru have slightly different types of pisco, but both claim to be the sole architects of the Pisco Sour.
If you're in Peru they will tell you about US Ex-Pat Victor Vaughen Morris. They say he invented the iconic national cocktail in his bar in 1920s Lima.
Now if you're in Chile it's a completely different story.
The claim to their national drink reportedly comes from a British maritime history: To keep scurvy at bay, the navy instructed sailors to consume a lemon a day. A whole lemon on its own is unpalatable. So adding a stiff liquor like Pisco and a spot of sugar proved a delightful solution. Elliot Stubb then brought the sailors drink to a bar in the port city of Iquique for the first time in 1872.
Clearly both conflicting tales can't describe the true origins of the much loved cocktail - but these stories are nonetheless part of both Chile and Peru's national heritage and a source of national pride
Whether from Chile or Peru this basic recipe remains the same:
3 Parts Pisco
1 Part Sugar Syrup
1 Part Lemon Juice
In Chile they shake over ice and serve as is. Peruvians add an egg white (for frothy goodness), blend with ice and serve with a dash of bitters.
If you're hankering for a Pisco Sour after Spanish class in Northcote, Kelvin Bar does a mean one.
If you're in the CBD you could visit Melbourne's only dedicated Pisco Bar, Pastuso.
Or why not go and try a Pisco in Peru and compare to a Chilean one?
Be sure to take a Spanish for Travel course so you can easily order them at the bar.
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November 25, 2016
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