Johnny Cocktail has been VERY busy!

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Pisco Sour

In a Shot:  I made a Pisco Sour in honor of our Peruvian Independence Day celebration and looked deeper into this fantastic cocktail.

I have always been fond of cocktails that are based on National spirits for a country.  There is a certain pride each of these spirits and drinks evoke into the atmosphere that can literally transport you somewhere in the world.  Russia has it's Vodka, Scotland has it's Scotches, America has it's Bourbons, Mexico/Tequila, Brazil/Cachacha, Japan/Shochu, Jamaica/Rum, ect/ect/ect (these are the more common ones, but this list can literally go on forever)

While working on my cocktail of the month I have been whisked into restaurant preparation for Peruvian Independence Day celebrations.  The independence day of any nation commemorates the anniversary of a very significant day in the history of a country's struggle to obtain freedom.  Peru celebrates theirs on the 28th of July, separating from Spanish rule in 1824.

With a little history for boding, Peru's national drink (also in combat of national declaration with Chile and widely consumed in Bolivia) is Pisco (Pronounce Pee-Skoh), a Spanish settler's grape brandy originating from the 1500's.  The drink that undergoes legal dispute between Chile & Peru, even today, is their national drink, the Pisco Sour.  Peru even has celebrates a "Pisco Sour Day" on the first Saturday of every February.  The rule of thumb on that day is that when the Peruvian National Anthem is played, as a mark of respect, all Pisco Sours must be finished!

This is a drink I will be making plenty of today.  Though disputed as far as specifics and blurred through many variations (many including spices, honey's and even avocado's or chilies) the basic recipe of a Pisco Sour is Pisco (obviously), lemon/lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and bitters.  When made correctly, this is by far one of the greatest cocktails you will ever consume!

Traditionally, Pisco Sours are blended with crushed ice and you merely float some regional bitters on the top of the frothy foam that creates the final piece of a very inviting and delicious beverage.  It is preferred by many people (Such as the great Simon Difford) to have this drink sublimely served straight up in an old fashioned glass.  I personally enjoy the drink served straight up in a martini glass, one, because I love that classic martini glass, two because martinis are designed to be consumed swiftly and this is a drink best consumed quickly and while it's very cold.  While there is often truly nothing better than the clean, crisp, citrus bite of a crushed ice or frozen cocktail, the dilution of ice, though making a very refreshing beverage, thieves the cocktail of the true complexities of Pisco Peruvian/Chilean brandy which separates it from the other Sours, Caipirinhas, Margaritas, Side Cars, Daiquiris & Mojito's (All Excellent by the way, just different).  It's the uniqueness of the cocktail though that gives it such a deserving, national and international recognition which it just so rightfully deserves.  Sometime this weekend, take your time out and either go somewhere supporting the Peruvian cocktail or make one at home following these very simple steps:

Glass:  (If on the rocks use a pint glass filled with crushed ice, otherwise send it through an old fashioned or martini glass)
Method:  Shake the first four ingredients with ice vigorously (and I mean vigorously like your life depended on it!) SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE (repeat) then strain into glass.  Apply three dashes of preferred bitters to the ridiculously frothy head of the drink.  (I use Angostura at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was subject to change) ;p

2 1/2 Shots Pisco (Try ABA Pisco or El Pisco De Chile)
1 Shot Freshly Squeezed Lime or Lemon Juice (I used a combination of Meyer lemon and key lime juices, though traditionally using juice from any commonly available limes)
1 Shot Simple Syrup (Equal parts sugar and water boiled then cooled) Though I've seen a teaspoon of powdered sugar used in other recipes
Egg White from a really happy chicken egg
3 dashes Aromatic Bitters  (It's ok to experiment, that's how we evolve!)

Also try:   a Chilean popular drink, the "Piscola" which is merely Pisco with a few bitters topped up with soda of choice (Preferably Coke, ginger ale or Lemon-Lime Soda) - Though a squirt of lime would still make this a wee bit more exciting.

Also try:  San Francisco's Bank Exchange famed Jerry Burns and Duncan Nichol created the early 1800s Pisco Punch which is also recommended.  A lemonade tasting liquid courage libation consisting of Pisco, juices from pineapples, oranges, lemons and simple syrup, spiced with dried cloves and topped with a Brut Champagne.


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