The Pisco Variations

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

As a destination, Peru has a lot going for it: Machu Picchu … The Nazca Lines … Lake Titicaca … photobombing llamas. But before, after, between and sometimes even during tours of those, there’s the ubiquitous Pisco Sour, an almost intuitive union of pisco, lemon juice, sugar, egg white and a few dashes of bitters. Peru’s (and Chile’s) national cocktail is a typical first pisco encounter for those who have never had the South American grape brandy with a legacy fiercely claimed by both countries. Regarding the Peruvian stuff, there are a few key styles to know: acholado (distilled from a blend of two or more of eight permissable grapes, though usually based on quebranta); single-varietal puro or aromatica (look for the delicately floral torontel grape or intensely tropical Italia); and mosto verde (a prized variation of pisco made from partially fermented grape must). For his classic pisco sour, Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada mixologist and spirits educator J.R. Starkus uses the aromatic BarSol Selecto Italia, and for his pomegranate and Brazilian-inspired variations, Starkus suggests the full-bodied BarSol Primero Quebranta.

BarSol Pisco Sour
By J.R. Starkus, Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada

In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 1/2 ounces BarSol Selecto Italia pisco, 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, 3/4 ounce simple syrup and 1/2-3/4 ounce egg white. Add ice, cover, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with four drops of Amargo Chuncho bitters atop what should be a firm foam cap.

Take your pisco sour to Brazil by adding Funkin Brazilian cocktail mixture, a blend of guarana seeds, passion fruit, mango and orange juice) or add a pomegranate pop with POM Wonderful or PAMA pomegranate liqueur. (When adding mixers and fruit juices, consider swapping the BarSol Selecto Italia out for the full-bodied BarSol Primero Quebranta.)