Pisco Sour: Easy 4-Ingredient Cocktail [The Ultimate Recipe]

What’s a Pisco Sour?

The Pisco Sour is a classic cocktail originating from South America, particularly Peru and Chile. It is made with pisco, a grape brandy, combined with fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white, shaken vigorously to create a smooth, frothy texture. Typically served in a sour glass to enhance its aromatic profile, it is often garnished with a few drops of Angostura bitters.

The cocktail offers a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors, with a creamy mouthfeel and a visually striking frothy top. Its popularity stems from its refreshing taste and elegant presentation, making it a staple in the cocktail world.

What’s pisco alcohol?

Pisco is a traditional South American brandy, distilled from grapes and primarily produced in the winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. This clear spirit is known for its versatility and varied flavor profiles, ranging from floral and fruity to earthy and woody, depending on the grape varietals used. Pisco forms the base of the renowned Pisco Sour and is integral to various other cocktails, celebrated for its ability to impart complex flavors while maintaining a smooth finish.

Why is the cocktail called a Pisco Sour?

The Pisco Sour, a signature cocktail, derives its name from “pisco,” the South American grape brandy that forms its base, and “sour,” indicating the inclusion of lime juice, a staple in sour cocktails. Invented by Victor Morris, an American in Peru, in the early 20th century, the Pisco Sour was Morris’s creative twist on the traditional whiskey sour, substituting whiskey with the local spirit, pisco.

This innovation led to a cocktail that uniquely blends the smooth, aromatic notes of pisco with the refreshing tang of lime, complemented by the sweetness of syrup and the creamy texture of egg white. The Pisco Sour’s evolution over time has seen the addition of egg whites for a silkier consistency and Angostura bitters for a deeper flavor, solidifying its status as a beloved and classic cocktail in South America and beyond.

Ingredients of Pisco Sour

The classic Pisco Sour recipe calls for four ingredients to create its unique taste. Typically, it includes 60 ml (2 oz) of pisco, 30 ml (1 oz) of fresh lime juice, 15 ml (0.5 oz) of simple syrup, and 1 egg white. Additionally, ice cubes are essential for shaking, and aromatic bitters, like Angostura, are used for garnish.

Remember, these measurements are suggestions and can be tweaked to suit your taste preferences. Whether you’re a cocktail enthusiast or a casual drinker, adjusting the volumes can personalize your Pisco Sour experience.

  1. Pisco: 60 ml (2 oz)
  2. Lime Juice: 30 ml (1 oz) – freshly squeezed
  3. Simple Syrup: 15 ml (0.5 oz)
  4. Egg White: 1
  • Ice Cubes: For shaking
  • Bitters: Like Angostura – for garnish

Ingredient Substitutes for Pisco Sour

To cater to different tastes and ingredient availability, substitutions can be made in the Pisco Sour recipe. Instead of pisco, try using other clear spirits like vodka or white rum. Lemon juice can replace lime juice for a different citrus note. If simple syrup isn’t handy, agave syrup or honey can be used as sweeteners. For a vegan option, aquafaba (chickpea brine) is a great substitute for egg white, and it creates a similar frothy texture. In the place of Angostura, you can try different brands and styles of aromatic bitters.

These alternatives allow for creativity and adaptability in preparing this iconic cocktail.

  • Pisco Substitute: Vodka or white rum
  • Lime Juice Substitute: Lemon juice
  • Simple Syrup Substitute: Agave syrup or honey
  • Egg White Substitute: Aquafaba (chickpea brine)
  • Angostura Alternative: Other aromatic bitters

This approach ensures the Pisco Sour remains accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their ingredient preferences or dietary restrictions.

What are the egg white alternatives when making a cocktail?

For those seeking alternatives to egg white in cocktails, aquafaba, the liquid from canned chickpeas, stands out as a popular plant-based substitute, effectively replicating the frothy texture and mouthfeel. Other vegan options include hydrocolloids like xanthan gum or agar-agar.

Non-vegan alternatives include pasteurized egg whites, which offer the frothiness of raw egg whites but without the associated health risks, and powdered egg whites, convenient for consistent frothing and easy storage.

Ingredient Proportions for Pisco Sour

For crafting the perfect Pisco Sour, the recommended ratio of ingredients is 2 parts pisco, 1 part lime juice, and 1/2 part simple syrup. This creates a well-balanced cocktail, but feel free to adjust these proportions.

For instance, you might prefer a sweeter or more tart version, so tweaking the amount of lime juice or simple syrup can achieve this. The key is to find the balance that pleases your palate, making each sip of Pisco Sour uniquely satisfying.

  • Ratio: 2:1:0.5 (pisco : lime juice : simple syrup)
  • Adjustments: Tailor to personal taste

Best Ingredients for Pisco Sour

The quality of ingredients in a Pisco Sour greatly influences its final taste, opting for high-quality, fresh ingredients is key to an exceptional cocktail.

Use fresh lime juice instead of bottled for a brighter, more authentic flavor. High-quality pisco will elevate the cocktail, offering a smoother, more refined taste. Natural simple syrup, made from sugar and water, brings a clean sweetness without overpowering the drink. Fresh egg whites are essential for that creamy, frothy top layer.

  • Pisco: High-quality for smoother taste
  • Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed for brightness
  • Simple Syrup: Homemade for natural sweetness
  • Egg White: Fresh for creamy texture

Flavor Profile of Pisco Sour

The refreshing flavor profile of Pisco Sour balances tart, sweet, and smooth elements. The pisco provides a robust, slightly woody base, complemented by the zesty, acidic kick of fresh lime juice. The simple syrup adds a gentle sweetness, creating a harmonious blend with the other components. The egg white contributes a silky, creamy texture, rounding off the drink with a soft, frothy layer.

  • Base: Robust and slightly woody from pisco
  • Acidity: Zesty and refreshing from lime juice
  • Sweetness: Gentle and balancing from simple syrup
  • Texture: Silky and creamy from egg white
  • Overall: Refreshing, nuanced, and well-balanced

Tools & Equipment for Pisco Sour

To make a Pisco Sour, you’ll need a cocktail shaker to blend the ingredients effectively and create the desired frothiness. A strainer is essential for ensuring a smooth pour into the glass. Measuring tools like a jigger will help you get the ingredient proportions just right. A citrus juicer is handy for extracting fresh lime juice. And finally, a small spoon or dropper is useful for adding the bitters precisely on top of the frothy egg white layer. Each tool plays a role in crafting this classic cocktail to perfection.

  1. Cocktail Shaker: For blending and frothing
  2. Strainer: For smooth pouring
  3. Jigger: For precise measuring
  4. Citrus Juicer: For fresh lime juice
  5. Spoon/Dropper: For bitters application

Instructions for Preparing Pisco Sour

Here’s how you create a perfectly balanced, frothy, and refreshing Pisco Sour:

Begin by chilling a serving glass with ice, ice water, or in a freezer. Next, measure 60 ml (2 oz) pisco, 30 ml (1 oz) fresh lime juice, and 15 ml (0.5 oz) simple syrup. Combine these three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with one egg white for the signature froth. Then, add ice and shake to mix and cool the drink, creating a frothy consistency. Strain the mixture into the chilled glass. Finish by delicately placing a few drops of bitters on the frothy top.

  1. Chill the Glass: Start by chilling your serving glass in the freezer or with ice.
  2. Mix Ingredients: In the cocktail shaker, combine 60 ml (2 oz) pisco, 30 ml (1 oz) fresh lime juice, and 15 ml (0.5 oz) simple syrup.
  3. Add Egg White: Include 1 egg white into the shaker. This will create the signature froth.
  4. Add Ice & Shake: Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously. This blends and cools the drink, emulsifying the egg white.
  5. Strain: Use the strainer to pour the cocktail into the chilled glass, ensuring a smooth texture without ice chips.
  6. Garnish with Bitters: Gently add a few drops of bitters on the frothy top layer to create a decorative pattern.

Pro Tip: To maximize the froth from the egg white, try different shaking methods, such as the dry shake.

Stir or Shake: The Best Method for Pisco Sour

When preparing a Pisco Sour, shaking is the preferred method. Unlike stirring, shaking vigorously combines the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white, creating the desired frothy texture.

Stirring won’t achieve the same level of emulsification or frothiness crucial to the drink’s character, because it won’t provide the necessary agitation for the ingredients to blend correctly.

Moreover, shaking with ice chills the cocktail quickly, enhancing its refreshing quality. Therefore, for an authentic Pisco Sour experience, always opt for shaking.

  • Method: Shaking
  • Reason: Better emulsification and frothiness

Ice: Chilling and Dilution in Pisco Sour

For preparation of Pisco Sour, ice cubes are used in the shaker to cool the cocktail and add a slight dilution, which is essential for balancing the flavors.

In terms of serving, Pisco Sour is typically served neat without ice in the glass. However, pre-chilling the serving glass in the freezer or with ice ensures the cocktail remains cold when served.

Using too much ice in the shaker or serving it on the rocks can lead to over-dilution, which might alter the intended flavor profile of the Pisco Sour.

  • Preparation Ice: Regular ice cubes in shaker
  • Serving: Neat in pre-chilled glass
  • Avoid: Over-dilution with too much ice

Troubleshooting Common Mistakes in Pisco Sour Preparation

Troubleshooting common issues in Pisco Sour preparation is key to perfecting this classic cocktail. Addressing these points ensures a Pisco Sour that is perfectly balanced, with the right texture and flavor:

If your Pisco Sour lacks the desired frothy texture, it’s likely due to insufficient shaking. A vigorous and extended shake, especially during the dry shake phase, is crucial. Over-dilution, another common issue, can be avoided by shaking with ice only until the shaker feels cold, approximately 15-20 seconds.

For a well-balanced taste, careful measurement of pisco, lime juice, and simple syrup is essential. Use a jigger for precision. Finally, too many bitters can lead to a bitter overtone; instead, apply just a few drops delicately on top of the froth.

  1. Frothiness Issue: Shake longer and more vigorously, especially during the dry shake.
  2. Over-Dilution: Shake with ice until shaker is cold, not longer.
  3. Flavor Balance: Use precise measurements for ingredients.
  4. Bitters Application: Add just a few drops to avoid bitterness.

Presentation of Pisco Sour

The presentation of a Pisco Sour, encompassing the choice of glassware and garnish, plays a pivotal role in elevating not just its visual appeal but also in enhancing the sensory enjoyment of the cocktail. Thoughtful presentation transforms the drink from a mere beverage to a complete sensory experience, inviting the drinker to savor its flavors, aromas, and textures.

Glassware for Pisco Sour

The sour glass is the classic choice for a Pisco Sour as it not only showcases the layered beauty of the cocktail but also intensifies its aromatic profile and maintains the frothy top.

For a touch of elegance, small cocktail glasses like a coupe or Nick & Nora serve as stylish alternatives, lending an air of sophistication.

Alternatively, lowball glasses, such as an old-fashioned glass, offer a more casual approach. For those who enjoy a contemporary style, stemless wine glasses or stemless martini glasses are creative and trendy options, providing a unique twist on the conventional cocktail presentation.

  • Classic Option: Sour glass – for aroma concentration and froth maintenance
  • Alternative Option: Small cocktail glass or rocks glass
  • Contemporary Style: Stemless wine or martini glass

What is a sour glass?

A sour glass, specifically designed for sour cocktails, features a unique shape with a wide bowl and a tapered top, enhancing the drink’s aromatic profile and visually highlighting its frothy head. Ideal for classic cocktails like the Pisco Sour or Whiskey Sour, this glass type is a staple in professional bartending and cocktail enthusiasts’ collections. Its distinct design not only serves a functional purpose in aroma concentration but also adds an elegant aesthetic to the presentation of sour-based cocktails.

Garnish Options for Pisco Sour

While the classic garnish for a Pisco Sour is a few drops of Angostura bitters artfully swirled on the frothy egg white, there’s room for creativity. A slice of lime or a twist of lime peel can add a fresh visual and aromatic element. For a more adventurous approach, edible flowers or a sprinkle of ground spice like nutmeg or cinnamon can offer an unexpected visual appeal and a hint of complementary flavor.

  • Classic Garnish: Angostura Bitters
  • Creative Garnishes: Lime Slice, Lime Twist, Edible Flowers, Ground Spice (Nutmeg/Cinnamon)

These presentation elements, from glassware to garnish, contribute significantly to the enjoyment of a Pisco Sour, making each sip a delightful experience beyond just taste.

Variations & Riffs on Pisco Sour

Exploring variations of the Pisco Sour leads to a delightful array of cocktails, each offering a unique twist while maintaining a similar sour profile.

The Chilcano brings a fizzy twist with ginger ale, while the Maracuyá Sour adds an exotic touch with passion fruit. The Pisco Punch and Amaretto Sour offer sweeter alternatives with pineapple juice and almond-flavored liqueur amaretto, respectively. The Whiskey Sour and New York Sour provide a bourbon-based variation, with the latter featuring a red wine float for added complexity. The Caipirinha and Margarita keep the citrusy essence alive with cachaça and tequila bases. Lastly, the Trinidad Sour offers a bitters-forward flavor, creating a bold and intriguing version of the classic sour.

  1. Chilcano: Pisco, Ginger Ale, Lime Juice
  2. Maracuyá Sour: Pisco, Passion Fruit, Lime Juice
  3. Pisco Punch: Pisco, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice
  4. Amaretto Sour: Amaretto, Lemon Juice, Sweetener
  5. Whiskey Sour: Whiskey (Bourbon), Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup
  6. New York Sour: Whiskey Sour with a Red Wine Float
  7. Caipirinha: Cachaça, Sugar, Lime
  8. Margarita: Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime Juice
  9. Trinidad Sour: Bitters, Whiskey (Rye), Orgeat Syrup, Lemon Juice

These variations showcase the versatility of the sour cocktail concept, offering something for every taste preference, from the refreshing to the bold, and from fruity to spirit-forward. Each adaptation brings its own unique character, making the sour family of cocktails a fascinating and diverse group to explore.

Experiment: Create Your Own Pisco Sour

Creating your own riff on the classic Pisco Sour offers a delightful opportunity to experiment with flavors and textures.

Start by considering variations in the base spirit; white rum or vodka can offer a different foundation while maintaining the cocktail’s character. For a twist in acidity, try swapping lime juice with lemon or grapefruit juice. Sweeteners can range from honey to maple syrup, each adding its unique flavor profile. The egg white can be replaced with aquafaba for a vegan alternative. Spices like cinnamon or herbs like mint can add an aromatic depth.

  1. Base Spirit Variations: White Rum, Vodka
  2. Acidity Alternatives: Lemon, Grapefruit Juice
  3. Sweetener Options: Honey, Maple Syrup
  4. Egg White Substitute: Aquafaba (Vegan Option)
  5. Addition of Spices or Herbs: Cinnamon, Mint

Experimenting with these elements in a Pisco Sour creates a unique cocktail experience, blending classic techniques with personal creativity. The result is a tailor-made drink that not only refreshes but also reflects your individual palate.

Serving Occasions for Pisco Sour

Serving a Pisco Sour is ideal for a variety of occasions, making it a versatile addition to any social gathering.

Its refreshing and sophisticated profile suits elegant dinner parties, adding a touch of class. The cocktail’s vibrant and lively character makes it a perfect choice for celebratory events like birthdays or anniversaries. For a casual get-together or a relaxed weekend brunch, the Pisco Sour provides a light and enjoyable option. It’s also a fantastic choice for thematic nights, particularly those highlighting South American cuisine or culture.

  1. Elegant Dinners: Adds sophistication
  2. Celebrations: Birthdays, Anniversaries
  3. Casual Gatherings: Weekend brunches
  4. Thematic Nights: South American themes

Pairing Food with Pisco Sour

When it comes to food pairings, the Pisco Sour’s citrusy and slightly sweet notes pair beautifully with a variety of dishes.

Seafood, especially ceviche, complements its zesty flavors. The cocktail also pairs well with spicy foods, as its sweetness can balance out the heat. Light appetizers, such as tapas or cheese platters, are great choices, allowing the Pisco Sour to shine without overpowering the food. For a truly harmonious dining experience, try pairing it with Peruvian dishes, echoing its cultural roots.

  1. Seafood: Particularly Ceviche
  2. Spicy Foods: Balances heat
  3. Light Appetizers: Tapas, Cheese Platters
  4. Peruvian Cuisine: Authentic pairing

The Pisco Sour’s adaptability to various occasions and its compatibility with diverse culinary choices make it a celebrated cocktail, capable of enhancing any dining or social experience with its unique charm and flavor.

Pisco Sour Cocktail

Pisco Sour

A Pisco Sour is a visually stunning and refreshingly tangy cocktail, featuring the unique flavors of pisco, balanced with lime juice and simple syrup, topped with a frothy egg white layer, and accented with bitters. Served in a sour glass, it pairs beautifully with seafood and is perfect for elegant dinners or celebratory occasions.
Total Time 5 minutes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 1 Measuring jigger
  • 1 Cocktail shaker
  • 1 Strainer
  • 1 Sour glass (for serving)
  • 1 Dropper (for bitters; optional)
  • 1 Citrus juicer (for lime juice; optional)


  • 2 oz Pisco
  • 1 oz Lime juice
  • ½ oz Simple syrup
  • 1 piece Egg white
  • Ice cubes (for shaking)
  • Angostura bitters (for garnish)


  • Chill the Glass: Place your serving glass in the freezer to chill. Alternatively, fill it with ice or ice water.
  • Combine Ingredients: In a cocktail shaker, mix pisco, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup.
  • Add Egg White: Include an egg white for the cocktail's signature frothy texture.
  • Shake: Add ice to the shaker and shake until the mixture is chilled.
  • Strain: Pour the cocktail through a strainer into the chilled serving glass, ensuring a smooth texture.
  • Garnish: Finish with a few drops of bitters delicately placed on the frothy top layer.


Calories: 192kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 3gFat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 59mgPotassium: 92mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 14IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mg
Calories: 192kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: Angostura bitters, pisco
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