Recipe: Pisco Sour
New York Finally Has a Bar That Specializes in the South American Classic
There are two kinds of classic cocktails. The first are the kind that are actively relevant, that get daily traction at bars via the many calls for them. The Old-Fashioned, Martini, Bloody Mary, Daiquiri and Negroni are members of this happy category. The masses require no explanation as to what these drinks are. Nor do they need to be convinced that a person ought to give them a try.
And then there are the classics that are just, well, there. No one disputes that they are historically important cocktails with an unassailable culinary appeal. But they don’t get a lot of action. Rarely featured on menus, and therefore not ordered much, they may as well be museum pieces. The Sherry Cobbler, Brandy Crusta, Sidecar and Stinger sit in this waiting room.
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The traffic between these two categories is, of course, quite fluid. Not too long ago, the Old-Fashioned and Negroni dwelled in purgatory. No more. The Moscow Mule, all the rage in the 1940s, was nowhere to be seen a decade ago. Now it is ubiquitous. The Harvey Wallbanger was among the most drunk cocktails of the 1970s. Now, Harvey can bang on all the walls he wants; no one is going to answer.
The Pisco Sour is, sadly, one such Classic-in-Waiting. This simple sour is, of course, wildly popular in Peru and Chile, the two South American countries that forever battle for the title of Pisco Motherland. But in the United States, the drink is not overly common. It’s spiritual home is San Francisco, and you will still see the drink there more often than anywhere else. Bartender Duggan McDonnell was a prominent Pisco evangelist back the aughts, and he served a fine Pisco Sour at his bar Cantina. McDonnell went on to produce his own line of Piscos. And yet, his and other bartender’s efforts weren’t quite enough to bestow upon the Pisco Sour the mass popularity the Pisco Punch enjoyed in San Francisco in the late 19th century.
New York has proven even more of a challenge. We’re not much of a sour town. We drink strong cocktails, undiluted by juice. Llama Inn in Brooklyn has probably done more for pisco than any New York restaurant since the reign of Joe Baum’s La Fonda del Sol in the 1960s. Llama carries more brands of pisco than any other bar in the city. And yet, I tend to count on Llama more for creative new pisco drinks—until recently, invented by their talented longtime bar director Lynnette Marrero—than for a classic Pisco Sour.
Well, the Pisco Sour may have finally found its New York home in Bar Verōnika, a new bar just off the restaurant Verōnika.