Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back to Step One? The Peruvian Pisco Sour

As I wrote in a post earlier this year, Chile and Peru dispute the origin of the addictive aperitif known as the pisco sour, the welcome drink at nearly every hotel in both countries. I enjoy both the Chilean and Peruvian versions, but I never expected to read, as I did in yesterday's Huffington Post, that George W. Bush had broken his personal prohibition pledge at the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, with a pisco sour.

Tonight, my last in Santiago de Chile before heading north into the Atacama desert for several weeks, I enjoyed a fish dinner at Ostras Azócar, one of the city's classic seafood restaurants. In tribute to Mr. Bush's rare indulgence of good taste - and his imminent departure from the U.S. presidency - I ordered a Peruvian pisco sour (pictured here). I'll have at least one more on January 20th, unless of course he has the good sense to resign before then, and I'll hope that his long overdue backsliding allows him to enjoy many more in the coming years. Had he continued on this course in his early forties, instead of becoming a 12-stepper (or equivalent), the world might well have been a better place. Too little, too late?

By the way, despite what the Huffington Post piece suggests, there is no such thing as non-alcoholic pisco, which is at least 30 to 35 percent (60 to 70 proof) alcohol.

6 comments:

  1. Wayne, what differentiates the Peruvian version of the pisco sour from the Chilean one?

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  2. I like your humor re. Bush.

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  3. Wikepedia's Pisco Sour entry has some background on the question of who in which country invented cocktail:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisco_Sour

    Back in 1978, the bartender at Lima's now faded but once grand Gran Hotel Bolivar told me that the Pisco Sour had been invented right there, by a Texan.

    Here's the Bolivar's recipe, off the back of a free drink coupon I saved:
    ==================
    2 jiggers of pisco brandy Ocucaje
    1/2 jigger sugar syrup
    1/2 white of an egg
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    crushed ice, angostura
    SHAKE WELL BEFORE SERVING
    ===================

    Dan

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  4. Katie, the main difference in ingredients is the Angostura bitters in the Peruvian version. Of course, Peruvian and Chilean piscos differ as well - the Peruvian grapes are from the tropics, and the Chilean from the midlatitudes, and Chilean grapes get longer hours of sunlight - whatever impact that may have. There's a controversy going on between the two countries, but I think they'd do better to pool their resources to publicize pisco.

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  5. The alcohol percentage of pisco which is 30-35% is also strong. It should be consumed in moderation because considering its high percentage of alcohol, which could be harmful to the body. Excessive drinking of it should be regulated in order to avoid illnesses.

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  6. I don't think anyone would deny that, consumed in quantity, pisco can be damaging, but very few people would drink it straight - the pisco sour is much diluted and normally consumed as a pre-dinner aperitif. In terms of public health, I would be more concerned about the consumption of "piscola," in which the pisco is mixed with cola drinks, and is thus sweeter and easier to consume (though in my opinion it tastes truly foul).

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