A couple of years ago, I volunteered for a wonderful volunteer-abroad organization, Cross Cultural Solutions, and chose Peru as my destination. On my first evening, my mom took me to a local restaurant and told me to order a Pisco to go with my Ceviche (we were in Peru after all, and this was the National Drink and the National Dish- what a place, I was gonna love it here!). Actually, her exact words were: "Trust me, you're going to love this- it may just replace your margarita fascination." Upon first taste, it was so good that I almost ended up pounding it like a frat boy and his Natty Light Ice. My mom cautioned me to be careful, though it goes down easily, you will start to feel it. She was completely right- it's a definite creeper, meaning that at first you will feel little effect, if any, of the alcohol but, as time goes on, BAM! It hits you!
A Pisco Sour balances sweet and sour perfectly, with real lemon juice and sugar (not pre-mixed whatever they put in those cocktail mixes). They both do a great job of masking the fiery taste of Pisco but, still allowing its flavors through. Pisco is made by fermenting grapes into wine and then, distilling the wine into a clear brandy.
There is much contention on if the Pisco belongs to Chile or Peru and the two fight over it to this day. There are also two different stories on the history of Pisco: one tells the story of how the Spaniards brought the grape to the Pisco region but, in the 17th century Spain's King banned wine, so that the people of the region were forced to make another alcoholic drink from the grape. The other story says that when wine had been deemed inferior to export, it was given to local farmers who then distilled it into Pisco.
The recipe to the right is for a single serving but, since this drink is definitely a social one, I'll share with you the extremely easy recipe I was taught by one of our friends who was gracious enough to host us at his B&B in Urubamba. One of the pluses? Pisco cocktail hour every day at 5p with him and his lovely wife.
4 cups of Ice
3 cups of Pisco
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of lemon juice
Put all of this into a blender. Hit blend and add egg whites; blend again and top with bitters.
If you want to go hike the amazing Machu Picchu, I highly suggest planning your Peruvian trip over the first weekend in February- that Sunday is the National Pisco Sour Day. Whenever they play the National Anthem, you must finish your Pisco by the end of it or risk being looked at as another rude American tourist!
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