When in Peru, drink as the Peruvians do – that’s how the saying goes, right? That’s the theory travel buddy Zoe and I were operating under when we signed up for the Lima Market Tour and Pisco Sour Lesson. Pisco has been a part of Peru since the Spanish invasion, when colonizers attempted to make their beloved wine from home. However, the harsh Peruvian climate refused to participate and they ended up with Pisco instead – a clear, strong, whiskey-like liquor.
Upon arrival at the Parque Kennedy, our guide Giovanni surprised us with the news that this would be a private tour. More pisco for us! We started strolling towards Mercado Uno Surquillo, a building a most certainly would have walked right by had I been on my own – it was hidden inside a industrial concrete warehouse.
Inside, we marveled over colorful, bizarrely shaped fruits we’d never seen in the confines of our American grocery stores. We filled up our tote bags with exotic new fruits for the price of just a few soles. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday so much of the market was closed – I’d recommend taking the tour Monday-Saturday for that reason.
Typically, at this point we’d hop in a local combi to make our way to the second portion of the tour. But on the week of our tour Lima was torn apart by road work, and so we enjoyed a short walk through a quiet neighborhood dotted with colorful graffiti. We popped into a non-descript hotel where Giovanni began to lay out the ingredients for Peru’s most famous beverage: eggs and limes purchased from the market, and Pisco, ice, sugar syrup, and bitters from behind the bar.
We kicked off class with a straight shot of Pisco — which despite Giovanni’s instructions on how to do property, I ended up coughing back! We watched our Pisco sour professor’s precise moves with the dedication of A+ students – measuring out and blending exact amounts of Pisco, sugar, ice, and fresh squeezed lemon juice, removing egg yolks and adding egg whites to the blender, and then topping off the frothy creation with a few drops of bitters.
Then it was our turn. Giovanni’s drink had been the most classic incarnation, while Zoe’s leaned a little heavy on the Pisco, and mine a bit strong on the sugar syrup. Four doses of Pisco later, we poured ourselves out of the hotel. When in Peru, learn to make pisco sours the way the Peruvians do – it’s an afternoon you won’t regret.
– Alex Baackes