Want to start a ruckus? Ask a group of Latin American drinkers who invented the pisco sour.
Depending on who you speak to, the cocktail’s origins are equivocal – and hotly contested. Americans will tell you the delightfully sharp little number was invented by one of their own – Victor Morris, a bartender who set sail from the grand ole US of A in the 1910s to set up a bougie watering hole in Lima, Peru.
Chileans – you guessed it, also vehement pisco enthusiasts – attribute its origins to one Elliot Stubb, an English ship steward who reportedly invented the drink in 1872 in the Chilean port city of Iquique, then a part of Peru.
Neighbouring Peruvians will tell you, quite simply, that the who matters less than the where; the creole concoction was born in Peru, and why are we spending this time arguing when we could be drinking?
“It’s true,” says Javier Laos, bar manager at London’s Pachamama. “Peru loves pisco.”
So much so that Laos has designed an homage to the tipple, riffing on both the memories of his sunny Peruvian youth and his love of the traditional English garden. Fusing rhubarb-infused pisco, nectarous peach liqueur and his own spin on sweet wine mixer ratafia, Laos wants to bring a touch of the exotic to grey London.
“In Peru, we love the pisco sour,” he says. “We also love chilcano de pisco – our take on the Moscow mule – where the pisco is infused with passion fruit, ginger and chilli. My take on the classic sour, where the the sweetness of the peach liqueur perfectly matches the tartness of the rhubarb, is a perfect summer cocktail. It’s fruity, refreshing and reminds me of home.”
Mama’s Rhubarb Fizz: (Serves 2)
60ml pisco infused with rhubarb
20ml sugar syrup
30ml lemon juice
20ml peach liqueur
Chicha wine ratafia (for lacing)
30ml soda water
Chicha Wine Ratafia
600ml red wine
4 tbsp caster sugar
Peel 1/2 grapefruit
1/4 pineapple, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
Handful of purple corn kernels
Chilled wine glass
Grapefruit zest, to serve
Edible flower, to serve
“I highly recommended Peruvian Quebranta pisco – it is more like a white spirit such as gin or vodka. We use BarSol Quebranta Pisco. You could use the Peruvian Italia Pisco from their range as it has more aromatic qualities. The Chilean has more of barrel-aged note. If you fancy upping the rhubarb flavour, swap the peach liqueur for Chase rhubarb liqueur.”
- Start by making the chicha wine ratafia five days before you’d like to serve the cocktail. Add the red wine, sugar, grapefruit peel, pineapple, cinnamon, corn, and water to a heat-proof bowl and stir well. Allow to cool completely, then cover tightly and place in the fridge for five days to infuse.
- The day before serving, decant 200ml of pisco into a container and add a stalk of rhubarb. Seal tight and leave to infuse overnight.
- On the day of serving, add some ice cubes to a chilled wine glass.
- Add the rhubarb-infused pisco, sugar syrup, lemon juice and peach liqueur to a cocktail shaker and shake well until completely combined.
- Pour into the wine glasses, and add a handful of crushed ice to the top of each drink.
- Lace each cocktail with a good slug of the wine ratafia, and garnish with the grapefruit zest and edible flower.
From Delicious To Stratospheric
“For a really luxurious touch – and a bit more of a punch – replace the soda water with prosecco.”