Cocktail Hour: The Pisco Sour
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Feature image source:  Timur Romanov

Pisco is fashionable. I was introduced to the Peruvian tipple four years ago whilst tucking into a saucer of seabass ceviche. My first Pisco Sour was refreshing, tangy and had an egg white crown. It was easy to drink and judging from the taste I assumed that the alcohol content was minimal. Oh boy, how wrong I was. Several hours, laughs and cocktails later, I stumbled out of the restaurant tremendously merry and raving about my new best friend: The Pisco Sour.

Pisco originated in South America and has been in a tug of war between Peru and Chile, both claiming national ownership of it. It is un-aged brandy made from the distillation of fermented grapes (Quebranta, Negra Corriete, Mollar, Italia, Moscatel, Abilla, Torrontel or Uvina.) The liquid is bottled directly without any additives or dilution, and the alcohol content is deceivingly between 38-48%. The Pisco Sour is a cocktail of shaken Pisco, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and egg white, with a dash of angostura bitters. It complements fresh fish as well as flavor-rich items with its sweet, light and zesty profile.

With the appearance of Latin American restaurants across the Toronto dining map, I explored the city in search of my cherished companion.

The Classic, Mira
A friendly illuminated Llama greets me at the entrance of Mira. It is Saturday night at this trendy spot; the music is pumping and the crowd is ready to rock ’n’ roll. I take a seat at my table and look at neighboring diners for cocktail inspiration. With the display of different shaped glasses and garnishes surrounding me, it is clear that I am spoilt for choice. The menu confirms my observation. Alongside the classic Pisco Sour, there are more unusual varieties such as a strawberry and vanilla infused pisco option and a cucumber-jalapeno choice. I order the classic version and receive it in a small glass chalice, which resembles a candle holder. The egg white froth is dense, fluffy and reminds me of a cappuccino foam. The drink is just how I know and love it: refreshingly delicious. Similar to my original experience, several of these cocktails go down easy… unlike my Sunday morning.

The Twist, Jacobs & Co Steakhouse
It is a rainy Friday night and I am late for my reservation at Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse. I arrive at the table where my friends are breaking cheddar baked bread, as I apologetically explain my delayed arrival. Staring at their nearly-finished martinis, I hurriedly open the cocktail list and point to the first thing that catches my eye: the Pisco Pear Sour. This offering is an unexpected yet appreciated surprise on menu. Perhaps they knew about my passion for pisco. Aesthetically, the cocktail is simple and sophisticated. The flavors of pear and ginger are prevalent yet delicate and elegant. The pisco does not overpower but there is enough to heighten both my senses and mood. Observing my satisfaction, a fellow diner summons the server and speaks on my behalf. ‘I think she will have another one.’

The Showstopper, Baro
I walk through the doors of Baro and feel as though I have entered the hippest spot in downtown Bogota. It feels authentic. I sit at the bar and place an order of Yuca fries whilst tapping my fingers to the tunes spinning. Despite being rhythmically challenged, the energy of the place has me feeling confident and cool. The suave bartender shakes up my selected drink: The Baro Sour. This cocktail is a visual delight; it has an appetizing apricot shade and is ornamented with the restaurant’s logo. The ingredients are well thought-out and impeccably balanced. The Pisco and tropical fruit flavors dominate my initial sips and are followed by subtle notes of vanilla and almond. It is zesty yet sweet, comparable to sherbet. This cocktail is the vivacious cousin of the classic Pisco Sour; it shares a similar genetic makeup yet is a little more electrifying…

They say your best friend brings out the best in you. And that’s why mine is the Pisco Sour.

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Written by Anika Mehta

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