By Matt Mathai
How many drinks do you know rate their own national public holiday?
Peru celebrates a yearly public holiday in honor of the Pisco Sour during the first Saturday of February. In fact, the Pisco Sour is the national drink of both Peru and Chile.
Pisco is a clear grape brandy that has been made in both Peru and Chile for more than 400 years, although slightly different in each country. Peruvian pisco has to be distilled to at least 80 proof and can be significantly stronger than most Chilean piscos. Chilean pisco is typically matured in wood, with several different aging periods. Piscos can vary in flavor from baked banana bread to herbal undertones.
The Peruvian Pisco Sour uses Peruvian pisco as the base liquor and adds freshly squeezed lime juice (key limes are best), simple syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters. The Chilean version is similar, but uses Chilean pisco and Pica lime, and excludes the bitters and egg white.
The Pisco Sour originated in Lima, Peru. It was created by bartender Victor Vaughen Morris, an American from a respected Welsh Mormon family, who moved to Peru in 1904 to work in a railway company in Cerro de Pasco. Morris relocated to the Peruvian capital, Lima, with his Peruvian wife and three children in 1915. A year later, in 1916, he opened a saloon - Morris’ Bar - which became popular with both the Peruvian upper class and English-speaking foreigners. Morris, who often experimented with new drinks, developed the Pisco Sour as a variant of the whiskey sour
The oldest known mention of the Pisco Sour appears in the September 1920 edition of the Peruvian magazine Hogar. Another old advertisement appears in the April 22, 1921, edition of the Peruvian magazine Mundial. There, not only is the Pisco Sour described as a white-colored beverage, but its invention is attributed to "Mister Morris.”
The modern Peruvian version of the recipe was developed by Mario Bruiget, a Peruvian who worked as an apprentice to Morris in 1924. Bruiget's recipe added the Angostura bitters and egg whites.
In his memoir, Dean Ivan Lamb, the pioneer American aviator, remembers drinking a Pisco Sour in Morris' Bar, commenting that it "tasted like a pleasant soft drink" and that he felt disoriented after drinking a second one despite a bartender's stern objection that "one was usually sufficient."
2 oz Pisco
¾ oz lime juice
¾ oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Garnish: 4 drops Angostura bitters
Chill a coupe glass
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker
Shake vigorously for 15 seconds
Add ice and shake a further 15 seconds
Strain into a coupe glass