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Love at first sip, this Chilean Pisco Sour recipe is one of the simplest cocktails to make. Aromatic and fruity simply mix three parts Pisco, with one part each of sugar syrup, lime juice, and ice.
What is Chilean Pisco Sour?
Chilean Pisco Sour is considered Chile’s National Spirit. Neighboring Peru, also has its own version of Pisco Sour that it also claims as its national beverage.
Between the two countries, the origins of Pisco are fiercely debated. No matter which country you are in, you’ll get an earful as to why that country’s version is superior.
Pisco itself is a type of brandy produced in the winemaking regions of Chile and Peru. Each country claims to have the best ingredients for Pisco Sour.
Not surprisingly, Chilean pisco sour calls for Chilean ingredients. Pisco brandy must be from Chile, the limes are from the Pica region of the country and finally, sugar and ice.
How Strong is Pisco Sour
Pisco Sours are delicious. They are just simply good cocktails. They are subtly sweet, refreshing and incredibly easy to drink.
However, you do want to watch the alcohol levels. The alcohol content in a Pisco Sour drinks is between 30% and 50%.
In Chile, the fine balance between the intense citrus lime juice and sweetness of the sugar makes them very palatable. Be warned, too many Pisco Sours can knock you off your feet.
What does Pisco Sour Taste Like?
Despite the name, pisco sours are not sour. They are a curious blend between sweet and tart and most importantly very smooth.
The ingredients used to make a pisco sour have a big impact on the taste. For instance, the recipe for Chilean Pisco Sour calls for thin-skinned limes from the Pica region of Chile. This gives the Chilean pisco a bright and slightly sour taste.
If lemons are used instead, the Chilean Pisco Sour will be more citrusy, a little sweeter and feel more tropical.
Differences between Chilean Pisco Sour and Peruvian Pisco Sour
Regardless of whether the origins of Pisco Sour lie in Chile or Peru, the ingredients bear some similarities and differences.
In Chile, Pisco Sour is made using Chilean Pisco brandy, blended with fresh juice of pica lime and sugar, and ice.
Peruvian Pisco Sour, uses Pisco from Peru and adds lime juice, simple syrup, ice, egg whites and Angostura bitters.
There are also significant differences in the way the Pisco brandy is made. In Chile, the better quality Pisco brandy is aged in oak barrels which is not the case for Peruvian Pisco.
The range of grapes used to make Pisco also varies. Chilean Pisco can be made from a range of 13 different grapes, as opposed to eight in Peru.
Putting all differences aside, the first Saturday in February is a special day. It is International Pisco Sour Day, celebrated all over the world.
Discovering Chilean Pisco Sour in Chile – Chile’s National Drink
During our time in Chile, we were struck by how pisco is deeply woven into the local food culture.
Chilean pisco, usually in the form of a pisco sour, was available on practically every menu. With its light and playful aromas, it was often paired with ceviche, seafood and salads.
One of the things that surprised us about Chile, was the diversity of local drinks available.
In addition to Chilean Pisco Sour, the country also makes world-renown Cabernet Sauvignon wines and a myriad unique local drinks.
There is a lot to sip on Chile. Try the Chilean Pisco drinks and don’t miss out on the other local favorites.
History of Chilean Pisco Sour
Chileans claim Pisco Sour was invented in 1872 by Elliot Stubb, a steward on an English Ship. Apparently, when setting up a bar in the northern Chilean city of Iquique, he introduced a new drink.
He combined Pisco with limon de pica, a small lime that grows in the area establishing it as the birthplace of Chilean pisco sour.
Peru, however, disputes the claims. The origins of Pisco Sour are attributed to Victor Morris, a bartender from the U.S., in Lima. In the 1920s, Morris began experimenting with Pisco based cocktails and created the Pisco Sour.
Going even further back, Pisco was developed and popular among Spanish settlers in the 16th century. It was made from the distillation of grapes from wine growing regions.
Chilean Pisco is made in only two regions of the country known for low humidity and desert like terrain. The Atacama and Coquimbo regions in the north.
Pisco brandy made from other regions of the country are called Aguardiente, and by law cannot be called Pisco.
How to Make Chilean Pisco Sour at Home
This delightful cocktail can be whipped up in no time. The ingredients for Pisco Sour are simple. Start with Pisco brandy as your base, add, lime or lemon juice, sugar and ice and shake it all together.
In less than five minutes you’ll savor the refreshing flavors of Chile’s national drink.
Adapting Your Chilean Pisco Sour Recipe
- Limes vs. Lemons
In Chile, the limes used to make a Pisco Sour are specific limes from the Pica region. As these limes are not widely available outside Chile’s borders, you can substitute with either limes or lemons.
The taste will vary from slightly more tart with limes to sweeter and tropical with lemons. Simply pick your preference.
- Powdered Sugar vs Syrup
Most Chilean Pisco Sour recipes use powdered sugar. However, simple sugar syrup can also be used. You can make simple syrup at home by combining equal parts of sugar and water and bringing it to boil. One the sugar has dissolved, allow it to cool and use it in your Pisco Sour.
- Blended or Shaken
For this simple recipe, you don’t need to mix the ingredients together in a blender. Simply use a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the sugar dissolves.
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Rosemary is a writer, culinary explorer, and digital nomad. Together with her partner, Claire, they created Authentic Food Quest to help people find the best local food on their travels. For over 5 years they have eaten their way through South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America while sharing the best local food experiences on their website. Authentic Food Quest has been featured on top publications such as Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Honest Cooking. Rosemary and Claire are also authors of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon. Prior to creating Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary worked as a strategy director in advertising for over 15 years.