The word tomando in Spanish literally translates to “taking.” However, here in Peru we use this word for “drinking.” You “take” juices, coffee, sodas, alcoholic beverages, etc. – and I must say that one of my favorite things about Peru are the drinks. Since sharing is caring, I wanted to do a series on culturally essential Peruvian drinks. I’ll be sure to link or post recipes when possible so you can enjoy the Peruvian goodies at home in the US. Enjoy!
If there is a king of all quintessentially Peruvian drinks, it’s the Pisco Sour and it is actually Peru’s official national drink. Before coming to Peru, I had never even heard of a type of liquor called pisco so maybe you haven’t either. Allow me to explain: Pisco is a type of brandy that is oftentimes colorless but can come in yellowish to amber variations as well. Produced in the wine-making regions in both Peru and Chile, it was first made by Spanish colonizers in the 1500s.
The pisco is the base liquor for Peru’s tart national beverage. The rest of the ingredients consist of key lime juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and angostura bitters. The pisco sour itself was invented in Lima by an American bartender named Victor Vaughen Morris sometime before 1920. However, a Peruvian bartender working at Morris’ Bar is credited with creating the modern recipe in the 1920s. Of course knowing how important this drink is to Peruvian national pride, I made it a point to seek out one of the best in Peru when I was in Lima a few weeks back and I found it at Antigua Taberna Queirolo.
Founded around 1880 by Italian immigrant and eventual patriarch of one of the great pisco making families of Peru, Giacomo Queirolo, this tavern boasts one of the best pisco sours and traditional criollo food in Peru. The tavern’s pisco sour was absolutely perfect – smooth as butter, not too tart, not too sweet, and it packed a nice little punch. It can be found in the Pubelo Libre district, the same neighborhood as the Larco and National Archaeology museums, so it’s a great way to unwind after you’ve spent the day museum hopping.
All this adult beverage talk got you wishing for happy hour? Well, you know ya girl got the recipe right here:
*3 ounces of Peruvian pisco.
2 ounces key lime juice
1 tablespoon egg white
1 ½ ounces of simple syrup
¼ cup of crushed ice
*2-3 drop of Angostura bitters
In a blender combine the key lime juice with the egg white. Add the syrup, pisco and ice and blend on high speed until frothy. Pour into a glass, and top it with a few drop of bitters and serve up your Peruvian pride until your hearts content.
* It is extremely important to note that in order for this to be a true Peruvian pisco sour, you MUST use Peruvian pisco and you MUST add the Angostura bitters! If you buy Chilean pisco thinking there’s no difference and omit the angostura bitters because you think it’s not necessary, you are making a Chilean pisco sours. And, friends, let me tell you something – if there’s anything Peruvians collectively hate, it’s Chile. I’m talkin’ Haiti vs Dominican Republic, Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys type of hate – the beef is real. More about that another time but just make sure you’re not disrespecting Peru by making Chilean piscos and calling them Peruvian.
Enjoy and as always, let me know if you ever get a chance to bless your taste buds with this Peruvian classic!
If you’re thirsty for more, feel free to check out more delightful Peruvian drinks in the Tomando Series here.