Above: A couple of pisco sours, the national drink of Chile

Politics of the Pisco Sour

Chile is well-known for its wines, which form a significant part of the travel experience. But wine is not the national drink of Chile. Rather, it is the pisco sour, the base of which is a grape brandy, pisco, to which is added fresh lemon or pica lime juice and a dash of syrup.

Things are not as simple as they seem, however. Pisco is also the national spirit of Peru. Both countries claim to be the place of origin of the famous cocktail, and the rivalry is intense. In fact, Peru has even designated the first Saturday in February as Pisco Sour Day and made it a national holiday. Peru has fought a series of wars against Chile going back to the early 1800s, and its inhabitants do not take kindly to appropriations of any kind by their neighbor.

A pisco sour - peffan/iStock/Getty Images

The Peruvian pisco sour uses Peruvian pisco as the base liquor and, as well as lime juice and syrup, includes egg white and Angostura bitters. In 2013, the European Commission acknowledged Peru’s claim to be the geographical origin of pisco. Many accounts of the pisco sour date back to the American expatriate Victor V. Morris. His bar in Lima opened in 1916, and there are numerous references to the pisco sour being served there in the 1920s.

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Above: A couple of pisco sours, the national drink of Chile

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