The pisco sour is the national drink of Peru, though it’s worth noting that neighboring Chile makes the same claim. The Peruvian version of the cocktail includes egg white and bitters and is the more prevalent style in the U.S. At the base of the drink is pisco, an unaged grape brandy that has been produced in the region since time immemorial—or at least since the seventeenth century, when Spanish settlers began distilling it for the purpose of fortifying locally made wines. There are hundreds of pisco distilleries in Peru, a nation of only about 30 million (population-wise, somewhere between Texas and California).
If for some reason you missed National Pisco Sour Day, celebrated the first Saturday of February in Peru and her diaspora, you have an opportunity to enjoy a variation of this delightful drink just down the road, in San Antonio. Juniper Tar is one of the Alamo City’s newest cocktail dens, in a historic building on the outer edges of the downtown entertainment district. The bar’s Algarrobina Sour starts as a classic pisco sour, with the addition of algarrobina, a carob syrup that is used in a number of Peruvian beverages. Algarrobina is an explosion of tangy, sour, chocolaty-nutty umami. It is used in the traditional cóctel de algarrobina, a sweet, creamy mixture of pisco, algarrobina, egg white, and condensed milk. According to pisco historian and distiller Johnny Schuler, if you attended a wedding in Peru fifty or sixty years ago, it would not have been uncommon to see waiters carrying trays of pisco sours for the men and algarrobinas “for the ladies.”
At Juniper Tar, bar manager Benjamin Krick has created the ultimate mash-up of these two traditional Peruvian drinks, now gender-neutral for all to enjoy.
2 ounces Peruvian pisco
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1 teaspoon algarrobina syrup
1 egg white from a large egg
Amargo Chuncho bitters, or Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients except bitters in a cocktail shaker and dry-shake (without ice) for a few seconds to begin the emulsion process. Add ice and shake vigorously to thoroughly chill and emulsify the cocktail. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a few drops of bitters.