The Pisco Sour is made with egg white

Brian Rung

    Which came first: the chicken or the egg white cocktail?
     Once upon a time all sours (including Whiskey Sours) were made with egg whites. Somewhere between the end of prohibition and the 1950s egg whites disappeared from most bars.
    These days it's rare to find a bar that serves Whiskey Sours, Gin Sours and other classics with egg whites.
    There is one classic cocktail that absolutely, positively must be made with an egg white, the Peruvian-born Pisco Sour.
    The Pisco Sour first appeared in Lima Peru around 1920. Oddly enough the Pisco Sour was invented by an American, Victor Morris.
    Morris moved to Lima to work for the railroad in 1904 and would eventually open a saloon that catered to English-speaking foreigners and the Peruvian upper class.
    Morris simply took the locally distilled Pisco and plugged it in to the standard American sour recipe of spirit, sugar, lemon and egg white.
    Pisco is a higher proof, usually greater than 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), fruit brandy made by distilling fermented grape juice. The result is a spirit that is surprisingly light on the palate despite the high alcohol content.
    A quality Pisco is fit for sipping and will have grape as the dominant note with some faint notes of apple on the finish.
    The Pisco Sour is regarded as Latin America's “Most Elegant Cocktail” and has a strong following among fans of wine.
    Pisco is produced in both Chile and Peru with each country turning out a slightly different take on the spirit. Peruvian pisco is bottled at distillation strength and is never diluted while Chilean pisco production regulations allow for dilution prior to bottling.
    Both Peruvian and Chilean pisco must be made with grapes from the producing country's Denomination of Origin, or D.O.
    Finding a good Pisco stateside is not going to be easy. Your local store may carry only one or two brands.
    If you have the option, choose a Peruvian pisco over a Chilean pisco as the Peruvian variety was the original choice in the Pisco Sour. The most common Peruvian brands found on United States store shelves are Pisco Porton, Macchu Pisco and Barsol Pisco.
    Have you ever used an egg white in a cocktail? I had never used egg whites in cocktails until I made my first Pisco Sour. I should have done it sooner.
    Egg whites work wonders in cocktails and add a silky smooth, frothy consistency to your drink that you simply cannot acheive with any other ingredient.  
    Using an egg white will turn out a cocktail that is light in texture without overpowering the drink with a strong egg flavor. In fact, using an egg white in a cocktail hardly imparts any flavor at all. In many ways the egg white holds the drink together, and as a bonus your cocktail will have a nice “head” that can be decorated with bitters.  
    Typically the white from one small egg will suffice for a single cocktail.
    The key to the perfect Pisco Sour, or any egg white cocktail, is to use the “dry shake” method. You will miss out of one of the greatest experiences in the cocktail world if you skip this step.
    A “dry shake” is a shake with all ingredients, minus the ice. For the Pisco Sour the dry shake would include the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup and the egg white.
    After the dry shake, add ice to your shaker and shake vigorously. A good second shake with ice will force some air into the drink and you will achieve that perfect, delicate softness that delivers the perfect Sour.
    As mentioned earlier, you can decorate this cocktail. If done properly, there will be a frothy cappuccino-like head on your cocktail after the second shake.  Angostura bitters are a dark brown color and are also much thinner in consistency than the cocktail.  
    Simply add a few drops of bitters on to the top of the Pisco Sour, then use a stir stick to draw a design on top of the drink. Draw the first letter of your last name, shapes, squiggles, arrows or anything that your starving artist heart desires.
    Many bartenders opt to swirl the bitters as the simple design looks more appealing than several brown dots on top of the drink.
    The simple syrup used in the Pisco Sour is 1:1 cane sugar to water. Never buy the pre-packaged stuff,. It's easy enough to make and will keep in your refrigerator for about a week.
    The Pisco Sour is built in a shaker and served in a cocktail (Martini) glass.
    Combine in shaker:
    1 egg white
    1 1/2 ounces pisco
    1 ounce simple syrup
    1 ounce fresh lime juice
    “Dry shake” ingredients without ice
    Add ice to shaker, shake vigorously
    Strain into cocktail glass
    Top with a few drops of Angostura bitters
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.