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Three Ways: The Pisco Sour

Heralded as the national drink of Peru, the Pisco Sour dates back almost a century and is typically attributed to American expat Victor Morris and his Morris Bar in downtown Lima. Made with a base of pisco—a grape-based brandy produced in Chile and Peru and typically unaged—the cocktail adheres to the classic sour structure, with the addition of a foamy egg-white layer, often finished with bitters across the top. With tweaks made to enhance pisco’s fruity bouquet or to make the Pisco Sour’s signature froth vegan-friendly, here are three plays on the classic recipe.

Panyo Panyo At San Francisco’s Kaiyō, a new Peruvian and Japanese-influenced restaurant, bar manager Debora Fernandez, who grew up in Lima, was determined to showcase the adaptability of pisco on the menu. In the Panyo Panyo (pictured above), the Pisco Sour emerges transformed, as sweetened rice milk provides body and mouthfeel while vermouth and chamomile tea illuminate pisco’s floral sensibility. “I wanted to create a different cocktail from the Pisco Sour to focus on the versatility of the moscatel varietal,” Fernandez says. “And I wanted to pay homage to Japan, which is where I got the idea of using rice milk and tea.”

Prep the drink by brewing the chamomile tea, using 2 teabags per 12 oz. of water, and allowing it to cool. Make the sweetened rice milk by adding 4 oz. of simple syrup (1:1) to 8 oz. of rice milk. To make the drink, in an ice-filled shaker, add 1½ oz. of Peruvian pisco, ½ oz. of dry vermouth, 1½ oz. of sweetened rice milk, ½ oz. of chamomile tea, ½ oz. of fresh lemon juice and 2 dashes of orange bitters. Shake until chilled, then double strain into a chilled tumbler (at Kaiyō it’s served in a clay cup), then garnish with an edible flower.

Maracuya Sour Across town from Kaiyō, Enrique Sanchez, head bartender at the weeknight-only Dogpatch venue School Night, adds depth to a variation found on bar menus around the country in the form of crème de cacao. “Lots of drinks are inspired by how desserts are constructed,” Sanchez says. “Cacao and passion fruit are meant to be—a little sweet, a little tart and very harmonious.”

To make the Maracuya Sour, add 2 oz. of pisco (Sanchez uses a Peruvian acholado), ½ oz. each of fresh lime juice and lemon juice, ½ oz. of passion fruit syrup (Sanchez uses Small Hand Foods), ½ oz. of crème de cacao (Sanchez uses Giffard) and ½ oz. of fresh egg white (pasteurized if you like) to a blender, along with about 10 ice cubes. Blend on high for 5 seconds or until frothy, then fine strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with Peychaud’s bitters.

Frozen Pisco Sour Pisco rules the backbar at the Peruvian restaurant Llama Inn in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. There, bar director Lynnette Marrero perks up the standard Pisco Sour formula (of which the bar sells an estimated 150 each week) with riffs that play on the cocktail’s trademark texture. For her Frozen Pisco Sour, made in the bar’s granita machine, the classic ingredients get the slushie treatment.

To prepare six servings, add 12 oz. of Peruvian pisco, 3 oz. of fresh lime juice, 2 oz. of fresh lemon juice, 5 oz. of rich simple syrup (2:1) and 1 scoop of crushed ice to a blender, and blend for 20 seconds. Add 1 fresh egg white (pasteurized if you prefer) or 2 oz. of aquafaba, along with a little more crushed ice, then blend again for 10 seconds. Pour the drink evenly between six glass tumblers and top each with 3 drops of Chuncho or Angostura bitters

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