Pisco Sour / Photo by Tyler Zielinski
The Pisco Sour is one of the best global emissaries for pisco, a grape-based spirit popular in Peru and Chile. It’s a drink that any bartender worth their salt knows how to make, and even most casual drinkers can easily identify by the iconic drops of bitters that float atop the cocktail.
Pisco is a South American liquor distilled from fermented grapes, making it a style of brandy. Its roots are in Peru and Chile, though the specific origins are heavily disputed and both countries claim it as their national drink.
Like the origins of the liquor itself, the creation of the Pisco Sour is murky. Common tales have it first appearing at Morris’ Bar in Lima in the 1920s, created by its eponymous owner, an ex-Mormon American bartender named Victor Morris. He featured the drink heavily in advertisements marketing his bar to local miners, and it’s thought he made the switch to pisco for a classic sour formulation due to difficulty in procuring whiskey at the time.