After a month of only hearing about sobriety and non-alcoholic cocktails, there is no better way to start February than celebrating Pisco Sour Day on 2 February. The Pisco Sour is Peru's national cocktail and Ceviche's favourite. It's a cocktail of Pisco Quebranta, lime, sugar syrup, egg white and Amargo Chuncho bitters. Created in Lima in the early 1900s, it is the perfect aperitif and also goes brilliantly with our delicious ceviches and anticuchos. Here you can watch a video of how to make it...
The Pisco Sour is uplifting, refreshing and a real pick me up - that's why many are saying that it's set to take over mojitos. I think its even better. Tastier, edgier, more refreshing and healthier with its higher vitamin C content. And now for a revelation... at Ceviche the Pisco Sour outsells any other cocktail by 10 to one. We try so hard creating new cocktails, with new fruits, new ingredients. We try infusing Pisco with exotic herbs, unusual or delicious fruits and crazy roots, but nada. Miguel, our head barman and I tear our hair out trying to make great drinks with Pisco. So much so that he has lost all his hair now. The Pisco Sour always wins. This has been happening all over the world for decades and decades. Millions of mixologists and bartenders have tried to beat the recipe, create something new or pimp it up, but to no avail. Does egg-white put some people off?... naaaa. One in 100. People love it. We create new cocktails every week and although our customers love these, the Pisco Sour just smashes through all of them. Some creations are just perfect, that is why they last 100 years. Pisco Sour - I pay tribute to you, on this, your dedicated day.
I'm a self confessed Pisco Sour obsessive and although its our national drink its actually got international roots. An American entrepreneur named Victor V. Morris first created the Pisco Sour in the late 1910's as a local alternative to the then fashionable Whisky Sour. He was the owner of Morris' Bar, located in the heart of central Lima, which was almost exclusively frequented by English-speaking customers and travellers, who started spreading stories around the world of this new, refreshing cocktail that could quench your thirst without impairing your taste buds.
Ava Gardner, John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles became huge fans of the drink. It was rumoured at the time that Ernest Hemingway held the record for the most amount of Pisco Sours drank in one sitting. I think he probably held many records like that!
But the drink wouldn't have been so popular if it hadn't had the right ingredients to begin with. Lime has always been a staple of Peruvian cuisine, while Pisco Quebranta (a 'pure', single-grape variety of Pisco) suited cocktails perfectly. American by design, Peruvian by nature, Pisco Sour is the happiest of coincidences in cocktail history. Morris' Bar closed its doors shortly before the death of its owner, but soon enough established hotels such as Bolivar, Crillón and Maury took the recipe and perfected it by adding angostura bitters and egg white. Luckily for us, the bars of these hotels are still open and continue to offer some of the best Pisco Sours in Lima today.
Apart from of course Ceviche in London, some of my favourite places in Lima to have Pisco Sour are El Pisquerito, Bravorestobar, Bar Ingles del Hotel Country Club, Hotel Bolivar, Huaringas, Rosa Nautica, Capitan Melendez, Calesa, Amor Amar and Club Nacional.
In Peru, for Pisco Sour Day there will be a ton of activities. Provinces and cities will have competitions like who can make the biggest Pisco Sour in the world and who can make the best one, there will be Pisco Sour Festivals and there are competitions for who can make the tastiest things inspired by Pisco Sour such as cakes, ice cream, desserts and shakes.
In London, at Ceviche we will be doing a demonstration on Saturday 2 February for our customers on how to make Pisco Sour, and well, serving and drinking many of our Pisco Sours - chicha sour, aguaymanto (physalis), cherry sour (we call this one La Pituca) and more. Come celebrate with us or try it at home if you can get hold of the ingredients.
And as Hemingway once said (I think he said this about Pisco Sour):
"Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual."