Vegan Pisco Sour

The Pisco Sour is the classic cocktail of pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg whites. The American bartender Victor Morris popularized the cocktail at his bar in Lima during the 1920’s. But an early recipe appears in the Peruvian creole cookbook Nuevo Manual De Cocina a La Criolla (Lima, 1903). Here, replacing the egg whites with aquafaba makes the cocktail vegan. Instead of a shaker, use a blender to crush the ice and make a frothy aquafaba foam.

See La Yapa footnotes for more details on the ingredients and preparation.

Vegan Pisco Sour

Serves 2

  • ½ cup pisco1
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice2
  • ¼ cup simple syrup3
  • ¼ cup aquafaba4
  • 2 ice cubes5
  • Angostura bitters or cinnamon powder, for garnish

Combine the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, aquafaba, and ice cubes in a tall kitchen blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds to crush the ice and make a thick foam. Pour into 2 glasses. Garnish each drink with 3 drops of bitters or with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder.

La Yapa

In Quechua, Peru’s Indigenous language, “la yapa” means “a little something extra,” like a baker’s dozen or when a market vendor gifts you more vegetables. In this yapa section, you’ll find additional notes about the recipe’s ingredients and preparation.

1. Pisco is Peru’s grape brandy or aguardiente (firewater). Its name comes from the Quechua for little bird, and from the town of Pisco south of Lima. Winemakers in the Viceroyalty of Peru turned to distilling pisco in the 16th century after the King of Spain banned their wine. Pisco is a clear unaged spirit made from grapes and distilled to proof; that is, no water is added. Use a Peruvian pisco of the Quebranta grape varietal or an Acholado blend, they will hold up better to the citrus.

2. Limes in Peru are called “limón.” These are the green limes, not the yellow lemons that are available in North America. Spanish colonial foodways introduced limes to Peru and they are now a staple in Peruvian cuisine. Using limes instead of lemons yields a more balanced cocktail and sharper, bitter, flavor.

3. Simple syrup adds liquid sweetness. Store bought or homemade, you can refrigerate it in a sealed container for up to 1 month. For the simple syrup, combine 1 cup cane sugar with 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour the simple syrup into a mason jar and let it cool to room temperature before using.

4. Aquafaba is the water from unsalted canned chickpeas. Use it instead of water from home cooked chickpeas. Its foaming properties make it an ideal replacement for egg whites, not just in a cocktail but also in a meringue, for example.

5. Ice cubes are an important element in cocktails. They chill, dilute, and balance the drink. A balanced vegan Pisco Sour cocktail has this ratio: 2 parts pisco, 1 part lime juice, 1 part simple syrup, 1 part aquafaba, and 1 part water, by volume. So it’s important that each ice cube have a volume of about 1 liquid ounce.