A sure indication of a cocktail's fame is a international day of celebration. The first Saturday in February (this year Saturday the 2nd) is officially International Pisco Sour Day, perhaps the most famous drink in South America- maybe all the Americas.
Victor Vaughn Morris, an ex-patriot invented the drink in his Lima bar sometime before 1920, using Pisco (a grape spirit from the Peruvian town of the same name), sugar, lime juice- a take on the classic sour- Pisco for Whiskey, lime for lemon. However it wasn't until a few years later (middle 1920s) that Mario Bruiget, working in Morris' Bar, perfected the recipe by adding egg white and bitters, the version that continues to be popular today.
Like any great drink, controversy swirls, and many Chileans site evidence that, in fact they can claim its origins. Countries battling aside, historians seem to lean toward Peru, and as far as I can tell so do all bartenders that I know.
Where better to have a Pisco Sour than at the source, or at least as close as we can get in town? I headed over to the terrific Peruvian restaurant in Somerville's Union Square, Restaurante Turistico Machupicchu, a completely authentic, family operation owned by Rosy and Hugo Cerna. Between shifts can often be a pleasant down time for restaurant employees, I most likely would be the last person anyone would care to see. However, Carlos Yamo, from the western coastal town of Chiclayo, about 450 miles north of Lima, greeted me as warmly as an old friend. He poured the traditional version, adding some customers do like it sweeter and cinnamon can be added instead of bittters- which he gladly will accommodate. He made me a delicious version with Pisco Portón- the category equivalent quality of a fine single malt scotch. What a treat to have a traditional cocktail in a space where Boston seemingly drifted away- with a soccer match on in the background, a wonderful lighted picture box of Machu Picchu behind the bar and gracious, friendly service.
If you can't stop by this weekend, do so soon for live music, ceviche and of course a Pisco Sour. Salud!
Pisco Portón is a called a mosto verde pisco- distilled from partially fermented grape juice. Because of an incomplete fermentation, slightly higher sugar content remains. The resulting distillation creates a smooth, elegant, full bodied character. What this really means it's delicious straight too! Rich and malty, with tropical fruit flavors, 43% ABV, about $40.
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