Classic Peruvian Pisco Sour Cocktail

Classic piso sour recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serving: 1 to 2 servings
Yield: 1 to 2 cocktails
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
130 Calories
2g Fat
8g Carbs
3g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 to 2
Amount per serving
Calories 130
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 93mg 31%
Sodium 36mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 16mg 1%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 49mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The pisco sour is a classic cocktail that you've likely seen on bar menus. It's the national cocktail of both Peru and Chile, where pisco brandy is made and loved.

While technically in the same classification as other brandies like cognac, pisco is in a category all its own. It's high-proof, typically clear, and can range from slightly sweet to herbal and bitter. Pisco is delicious when mixed into cocktails, the most popular of which is the pisco sour.

There are many ways to make a pisco sour cocktail, but this basic Peruvian recipe is always a hit. Made with pisco brandy, simple syrup, lime juice, egg white, and a few dashes of bitters, the pisco sour's taste is a tantalizing mix of tart, sweet, silky, and herbaceous. It's a fabulous cocktail and an excellent excuse to explore the diverse range of piscos available.

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Click Play to See This Classic Peruvian Pisco Sour Cocktail Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces pisco

  • 1 ounce simple syrup

  • 3/4 ounce key lime juice

  • 1 large egg white

  • 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for piso sour
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Add the pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, and egg white to a cocktail shaker.

    Add sour to shaker
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Add ice to fill, and shake vigorously. Alternatively, you can use a blender if you don't have a shaker.

    Add ice
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Strain into an old-fashioned glass and sprinkle the bitters on top of the foam. Serve immediately and enjoy.

    Strain into old fashioned glass
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk for foodborne illness.

Tips

To get the most authentic version of this classic Peruvian cocktail, be sure to heed the following tips: 

  • Since this is a Peruvian-style pisco sour, pisco from Peru is preferred. Pisco puro is the traditional choice (made using only the Quebranta grape), but pisco acholado (a mixture of different grape varieties) will also work nicely. Pisco can be found in liquor stores across the U.S. and ordered online.
  • Very tart lime juice is essential. Many recipes call for lemon juice, possibly a translation error from the Spanish word limonLimones are actually small South American limes, similar to key limes (also known as "Peruvian lemons").
  • The skin of limes has a lot of essential oils that can be a tad too bitter and sour; when squeezing the lime, be sure to keep the flesh side facing down so the juice doesn't run over the lime peel. Avoid dropping the lime in as garnish as it will also tamper with the taste. 
  • Keep the simple syrup really simple. You can use any recipe for simple syrup you want, but the easiest and yummiest option is to do a basic 1:1 ratio of white sugar to water. 
  • If possible, use a real egg white. You can always use pasteurized liquid egg whites from a container, but the texture is not quite the same and can affect the look and taste of an authentic pisco sour.
  • Shake your cocktail well so that when you pour it into an old-fashioned glass, you get a nice 1/2-inch layer of foam on top.
  • In Peru, Amargo Chuncho Bitters are preferred. Its international availability is increasing, though Angostura Aromatic Bitters has long been the recommended substitute.

Is the Pisco Sour Safe to Drink?

It is safe for most people to drink a pisco sour, though any drink that includes raw eggs poses the risk of salmonella. Always take steps to make egg cocktails safely: Only use fresh, refrigerated eggs and be careful that the egg white does not touch the outer shell. You can also wait a little longer to take that first sip: A Brazilian study that intentionally inoculated a pisco sour with the bacteria found it safe to drink nine minutes after making the drink.

Who Created the Pisco Sour?

The pisco sour's exact history is disputed; both Chile and Peru lay claims to this famous cocktail's creation. However, the generally accepted story is that it was created sometime between 1915 and 1925. This account gives credit to bartender Victor Morris, an American bartender who was working in Lima, Peru at the time. It is a classically-styled sour drink, likely influenced by cocktails such as the whiskey sour.

Recipe Variations

As the pisco sour gained worldwide attention, bartenders developed variations and explored techniques for mixing up this cocktail:

  • If you find that the shaken cocktail isn't producing the desired thickness of the foam, try the dry shake method: Shake the ingredients thoroughly without ice first, then fill the shaker with ice and shake very hard for at least 30 seconds before straining.
  • Lemon juice often replaces the key lime juice. Some drinkers prefer the switch in citrus while others find it a better match for certain types of pisco.
  • Don't stress if you don't have bitters on hand, you can do without. Instead, you can try a sprinkle of grated cinnamon or nutmeg on top of the foam.
  • Tropical fruits make an excellent addition to the pisco sour. For instance, a mango pisco sour is a blended variation with frozen mango, and the maracuyá sour adds passion fruit juice.

How Strong Is a Pisco Sour?

Peruvian pisco can range from 38 to 48 percent ABV and is the only alcohol in a pisco sour. Thanks to the mixers and a generous shake with ice, the cocktail is relatively light. When made with a 40 percent ABV (or 80 proof) pisco is used, this recipe will yield a cocktail with about 11 percent ABV, similar to a glass of red wine.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lopes SM, Tondo EC. Survival of Salmonella in Peruvian pisco sour drink. LWT. 2020;117:108608. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2019.108608