Backcountry Cocktails: Pisco Sour Recipe
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My friend and college roommate, Krista had studied abroad in Peru one summer and came home raving about this drink: a pisco sour. I had never heard of pisco, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
It so happened that Krista and I would be roommates once again after graduating from college, this time in Santiago, Chile where she was working for a hotel and I taught English at a university.
Again, she raved about this drink, demanding I try it at my first chance.
The time finally arrived when our landlord hosted a welcome party for all the new tenants living in the various apartments she managed. I parked myself in a corner, met some new friends, and guzzled this delicious drink that someone continually replaced for me throughout the evening.
It was sweet from the simple syrup, yet balanced nicely with the sour from freshly squeezed limes. It was refreshing and didn’t taste too boozy. It was also potent. Very, very potent. After several drinks over the course of a few hours, I stood up, ready to head home for the evening and found the world spinning around me. I recruited one of my roommates to guide me home, while I hung on for dear life and wobbled slowly across the apartment complex grounds to my room.
After that night, I couldn’t get enough of the drink, though I learned to take it easy. It became my go-to cocktail, and luckily in Santiago, they were easy to find on the cheap.
When my partner, Dave and I returned to Chile to cycle the length of South America with our dog, Sora 10 years later, I, like Krista, demanded that he try pisco sour at his first opportunity. Since we were traveling on a budget, going out for drinks regularly wasn’t an option, but making them myself on occasion sure was.
And I had the perfect device in which to create this backcountry cocktail: My Klean Kanteen Insulated Food Canister. Not only could I make the drink in my canister, but I could also enjoy it from the very same vessel when I finished the job.
Anyone enjoying a pisco sour will quickly learn that Chile and Peru both claim the cocktail as their national drink, and the two countries argue as to who rightfully has ownership to the cocktail’s base liquor—pisco, a much-debated topic in Latin America.
Where the Peruvian pisco sour includes egg white and Angostura bitters, the Chilean version omits the two. I am partial to the Peruvian version, as it creates a nice froth on top, almost like a cappuccino, but as vegan now, I had to forgo the egg white.
But, I knew how I would recreate my favorite drink, froth and all.
What is aquafaba, you ask? Bean juice, to put it simply. Bean juice? In my cocktail? Yep. Trust me.
That liquid you normally discard when after opening a can of chickpeas is called aquafaba. It acts just like an egg and it has taken the vegan world by storm. Just check out the Facebook group Vegan Merigne Hits and Misses to see the insane amount of creation going on with the stuff you’ve been dumping down the drain for so many years.
I wanted to make this drink as easy as possible and since it requires simple syrup, I went in search of a method that doesn’t require turning on the stove. I was directed to Food52, where I found a no-cook simple syrup recipe. It takes a bit more monitoring than the stovetop method, but it can easily be made in advance, or you can simply let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
I also swap the Angostura bitters for cinnamon and nutmeg, if I have it on hand. I try to avoid glass bottles and single-use ingredients when we cycle tour, but I always make sure to have cinnamon. It’s bitter, so acts and looks similarly to the bitters. Plus, cinnamon.
A sweet and sour cocktail to sip with friends by the fire during your next camping trip.
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 4 Tablespoons aquafaba
- 5 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice
- 12 Tablespoons Pisco
- Dash of cinnamon
- *Ice if you have it on hand
- Add the sugar and water to your insulated Klean Kanteen food canister and stir to mix. Continue stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and a syrup has formed.
- Add the aquafaba, lime juice, Pisco, and ice to the canister, seal, and shake for about 10 seconds. You want the drink to be frothy on top.
- Add a dash of cinnamon in the center and enjoy!
*In the backcountry, we rarely have ice on hand, and the drink it totally OK without it, but if you’re making this at home, go ahead and add some ice to the mix.