Both Peru and Chile claim the pisco sour as their national drink and we can understand why; this strong grape brandy makes for a bitterly-good cocktail. Thanks to the surge of Peruvian restaurants in London, the pisco sour has started popping up on menu lists all over the city. Here are 10 of our favourite takes on the classic pisco sour. Words Catherine McCabe
Sister restaurant to Ceviche, Andina serves Peruvian dishes at affordable prices, but it’s the downstairs pisco bar we’re interested in. There’s a vanilla-infused pisco, the limo chilli-infused pisco and if you’re brave enough, the ‘Pisco moonshine 4 shot special’ for £9.50 including four sipping shots in strawberry, plum, pineapple, blueberry flavours.
1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch E2 7DJ
Japanese-Peruvian fusion might sound like an unusual pairing, but it’s more than a simple food trend. The cooking style, known as ‘Nikkei’, takes its origins from the culinary skills of Japanese immigrants who settled in Peru and merged local recipes with their own. Chotto Matte’s menu has benefitted from the years fusion between two very different cuisines. The large restaurant space can be intimidating, and the food prices high, but the bar has some interesting takes on the classic pisco sour, and on Tuesdays between 4-8pm, all pisco cocktails are just £5.
11 – 13 Frith Street W1D 4RB
You know you’re in good hands when a restaurant features a dedicated pisco bar. Ceviche’s version of the drink mixes Pisco Quebranta, lime, sugar syrup, egg white and Peruvian Chuncho bitters. Bar staff experiment with different variations, including the pisco punch with grapefruit bitters. The venue is great for large groups as there’s a focus on Peruvian sharing plates from the ceviche bar. A new location recently opened in Old Street, which is already filling up with happy East/North London dwellers.
17 Frith Street W1D 4RG/ 2 Baldwin Street EC1V 9NU
More laid-back than the he Michelin-starred Lima original, Lima Floral restaurant in Covent Garden serves ‘piquoes’ sharing dishes like beef empanadas and ceviche. They serve two piquoes and a cocktail for £15, and naturally the pisco sour is on that list. There’s the classic option, along with the Maracuya pisco cocktail which has a passion fruit flavour for £9.50.
14 Garrick Street (Floral Street entrance), Covent Garden, WC2E 9BJ
5 Maze Bar
If you just happen to find yourself in Gordon Ramsay’s glitzy Mayfair restaurant, Maze Grill, it’s worth stopping at the Maze Bar to try their upmarket take the pisco sour. It’s a little steep at £15, but it’s faithful to the delicious classic using lime juice, egg white and Chilean made ABA pisco, which is distilled in the Elqui Valley.
10-13 Grosvenor Square W1K 6JP
El Senor is normally packed to the gills, so make sure you book a table in advance. The pisco sour here is a traditional recipe, served frothy and bitter as a fresh lemon, priced £8. For eats, there’s a huge selection of tapas-style sharing plates with a big focus on Peruvian barbecue, like the Pachamanca pork rib in Nikkei bbq sauce for £8.50.
1st Floor Kingly Court, Kingly Street W1B 5PW
Being that it’s in swanky Mayfair, Coya is, unsurprisingly, a little more formal than some of the restaurants on the list, but the bar staff undoubtedly know their pisco. The Coya pisco bar serves a tasting selection called ‘Pisco Flight’ for £15 featuring the raspberry and thyme, rhubarb and Williams’s pear. The infusions change each season and there is a big selection of other pisco flavours to choose from. They also do barrel aged pisco.
Coya Restaurant 118 Piccadilly Mayfair W1J 7NW
Located in Islington, the members-only Pisco Embassy has a cocktail menu with 12 different recipe variations on the pisco sour including the Oso Paddington (yes, it’s inspired by the bear) featuring pisco infused with orange peel and cinnamon syrup. Signature cocktails are priced between £9.50 and £13. Unlike the other venues on this list, this one is a late night runner, open Friday and Saturday from midnight to 5am. 176 Upper St N1 1RG
Pachamama’s focus is simple: small Peruvian plates, served with a carefully prepared pisco sour. The atmosphere is more like a bar than a restaurant, though it’s still suited to a relaxed sit-down meal. They serve a ‘Papa Pisco’ (Pisco, lime, egg white, Amargo Chuncho) and a ‘Mama Pisco’ (Pisco, fresh raspberry, mint, orange juice) as well as the curveball take on the cocktail ‘Inti’ featuring Pisco, carrot juice and ginger. All alcoholic cocktails are £8.50, aside from the Papa Pisco, priced £7.
Pachamama 18 Thayer Street W1U 3JY
10 Be At One
If you’re in need of a last minute pisco sour and you’re not in the mood for a meal, Be At One is a safe bet. The Be At One bars use Chilean ABA pisco, egg white and a dash of nutmeg. It’s priced at £8.50, and then there’s always weekday happy hour (two cocktails for £9.50). Check your nearest venue for exact timings.