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  THROW YOURSELF A PISCO PARTY!  
   
   
  It has been 27 years since Rocky downed raw eggs and in the years since, a plethora of food crazes has swept America, but ingesting raw albumen has, sadly, not been one of them.

But pisco [PEES-KO], a South American brandy-like liqueur distilled from grapes, may change all that. Not only is pisco 45% alcohol, but it's an essential ingredient in the pisco sour, the national drink of Peru, a potent concoction that includes sugar, lime, bitters and raw egg white. It's tart and tasty and refreshing, and like Mom always said: "Never judge a drink by the ingredients."

Pisco is some serious stuff. The roots of Peru's pisco tradition reach back to the 1500s and stem from its time spent under colonial rule. The Spaniards brought the grape to the region, but in an act of sheer stupidity, the King of Spain banned wine in the 17th Century, forcing locals to coax a different -- and far more potent -- kind of alcohol from the grape. The ties go back so far, both Chile and Peru claim pisco as their national drink and are still fighting over who has sole ownership.

The word pisco comes from a Quechua word that means "bird" and pops up all the time in Peruvian culture, forming the root of town names like Piscohuasi, which means "house of birds", and Piscotuna, which means "fruit of birds." It even forms the roots of common Peruvian last names like Pisconte, Piscoya and Piscocolla.

As a result of the long tradition, Peruvians take their pisco -- and the egg-yolk based drink you're about to learn to make -- very seriously. And pisco's popularity is on the rise. Exports of the stuff have been soaring. In 2003, Peru's international marketing campaign for pisco boosted exports by 364% over 2002 levels, with Americans accounting for nearly 30% of all exports -- more than any other nation.

While America won't be hosting the 10th National Pisco Competition, the 8th Festival of Pisco or the Second National Congress of Pisco anytime soon, the pisco sour is certainly worth exploring.

Salud!

Ingredients

-- 4 ounces pisco
-- 2 ounces lime juice
-- 1/2 ounce simple syrup*
-- 1 egg white
-- 2 dashes Angostura bitters

* -- Simple syrup is made by adding one part boiling water to two parts sugar

How to Make a Pisco Sour

Making a pisco sour is so simple, even conquered indiginous peoples can do it! Take a big pint glass and 1. toss in a full, large shot of pisco, then 2. throw in another full, large shot of pisco. 3. Squeeze the juice of two limes into a shot glass and dump that into the big glass, along with the pisco. Blow on the egg to ward off salmonella

 
   
 

and then separate the yolk from the white. 4. One egg white will pretty much fill up the shot glass. 5. Take a half-shot of the simple syrup, drop that into the pint glass, 6. which will contain all of the ingredients of the pisco sour. 7. Shake the holy hell out of the drink, until the whites get frothy and creamy, 8. then pour the pisco goodness over some ice and add two dashes of bitters.

Now: "Tomate lo todo!"