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Pisco sour: the national cocktail

Lima has developed quite a reputation as a culinary destination and not just for its food. The national cocktail has also conquered the world and virtually any self-respecting bar will serve a variation of the pisco sour.

Chile and Peru have long been embroiled in a dispute over the origin of pisco, a grape distillate with an alcoholic content of at least 38 percent. Both countries claim to have invented pisco and regard it as their national drink; the pisco sour as the national cocktail is a logical twist. Many connoisseurs prefer the Peruvian pisco over the Chilean because the grapes from Peru are sweeter. As a result, Peruvian pisco requires no additional ingredients, such as water or sugar.

The pisco sour: a Peruvian classic

A pisco sour contains only 5 main ingredients: pisco, lime juice, beaten egg white, (Angostura) herbal bitter and sugar syrup. It is key to use lime juice and not lemon juice because it contains a very different degree of acidity. The taste, however, is also influenced by the grape species that are used; pisco can be made with 8 different grape varieties. Depending on the types of grapes used and the method of preparation, pisco sometimes resembles a tequila or may lean more towards a vodka. Just as with different types of wine, discerning gourmets will distinguish all kinds of flavours in pisco, from pear to roasted almonds, from cucumber to honey. Some types of pisco are enjoyed straight up and others are perfect for a pisco sour. In addition to this ‘sour’ classic, there are countless other pisco cocktails, made with mango, cucumber or ginger.



There are many locations in Lima where they serve the perfect pisco sour. One of those is the Gran Hotel Bolivar, the famous hotel in the old city centre. Writer Ernest Hemingway is said to have knocked back a record number of pisco sours here. Staunch drinkers can still quench their thirst in style and order their cocktail in an extra large ‘cathedral glass'.

Cafés in the Miraflores district

40 different cocktails

Huaringas is a real hotspot. This multi-storey lounge is located above the restaurant Brujas de Cachiche in the Miraflores district and is known for its great variety of pisco sour cocktails. This is a popular destination for Lima locals who come here for a drink before hitting the bigger nightclubs. The menu offers more than 40 types of pisco sour, so there is certainly one that you will enjoy.

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“The pisco sour is traditionally often drunk at lunch”

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Huaringas, Surquillo, Miraflores 15074, Peru

Photo credits

  • Cafés in the Miraflores district: Sven Schermer, 123rf