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How the Pisco Sour Got Its Name

Pisco Sour

On the first Saturday of February each year, we celebrate World Pisco Sour Day, and in Peru, it is usually a public holiday. Peruvians pay homage to their most popular cocktail by having each bar and restaurant serve Pisco Sour. It has been the tradition since 2004 when Pisco Sour became the national drink, and Peruvians highly regard it as the only alcoholic beverage worth commemorating any significant achievement. It is a drink credited to an immigrant, although there have been different theories about who first invented it. Let us tell you how the cocktail got its name as we take you back to Pisco Sour's creation.

Pisco Sour Creation Story

Pisco Sour’s invention is attributed to Victor V. Morris. According to Wings of Cherubs, Morris came from a large family of nine children. He was the fourth born and one of Richard Vaughan Morris’s three sons. Richard was born in Wales in 1830 and moved to Salt Lake City in 1855, where he settled with his wife, Hannah. Unfortunately, she died in 1864, and Richard married Harriet, who bore him Morris in 1848.

The Morris family was well-respected in the community, and the Adobe House Richard built in Salt Lake City is now a historical monument in Utah. The family was rich, affording to take Morris to a good school, and the three ran a flower shop. In 1899, Morris’s elder brother, Burton, died. Consequently, Morris started managing the flower shop, and his younger brother Sidney assisted him. Morris worked at the flower shop until he decided to sell it and take up a position in the auditing department of Oregon Short Line Railroad. He held on to the job until A.E. Welby, manager of Cerro de Pasco Railway Company, Peru, hired him as a clerk on June 3, 1903. In March 1904, Morris worked as a railroad agent, and the railroad reached Cerro de Pasco in July 1904, a milestone that deserved a celebration. According to Atlas Obscura, Morris claimed that he created Pisco Sour during this celebration. He explained that there were 5,000 people in attendance. As a result, the whisky ran out, prompting him to be creative; thus, he came up with Pisco Sour. By 1930, the drink’s popularity had soared to reach San Francisco, and it became among the most-ordered beverages in New York City in the 1960s.

Pisco Sour Gets Its Name

There have been disputes concerning Morris being the inventor of Pisco Sour. According to Pisco Trail, many believe that Morris invented the drink seeing that it Morris bar served it before any other bar. However, in 1903, a cookbook, Nuevo Manual de Cocina a la Criolla, was published, and a recipe closely resembling that of Pisco Sour was published. The recipe of a beverage titled “Cocktail” lists a glass of Pisco, an egg white, a few drops of lime, and a teaspoon of fine sugar as the ingredients.

According to the author of the Pisco Trail article, these are the same ingredients used in Pisco Sour apart from Angostura bitters and ice. Still, Morris continued to be famous for inventing the drink, especially after opening the Morris Bar in 1916, which became the favorite watering hole for the crème de la crème of the society, including Emiliano Figueroa, a former Chilean president. The bartenders who worked at Morris Bar also helped the drink's popularity to soar when they took the recipe to other bars in Lima. Allegedly, the first time that Morris Bar announced Pisco Sour to the public in Lima was in 1927. Pisco Sour became the first-ever cocktail with “Pisco” in its name to be advertised in Lima, and the second worldwide with “Pisco” as the first name. Morris can be accused of christening the “Cocktail” drink as “Pisco Sour,” and taking the credit for its invention by only adding a few other ingredients. All the same, he never revealed was how he came up with the name "Pisco Sour." Thankfully, enlightens us that before the rise of the Inca Empire, there were potters. The potters manufactured vessels to store alcoholic beverages, and they referred to these vessels as “piskos.” The first grape distillate produced in Peru was stored in the piskos, and the cocktail took up the name of the vessel. That is one of the explanations regarding how Pisco could have gotten the name. The other theory is the large population of small birds in the Quechua region, which the locals call “pisqu.” In light of this, the drink could have adopted the name.

Pisco Sour is a Variation of Other Cocktails

Morris Bar continued doing well until the entrepreneur died in 1929. He had been suffering from cirrhosis and after he passed away, the bar closed. One of Morris Bar’s bartenders Mario Alfonso Bruijet was hired by The Hotel Maury in 1925. While there, he served Pisco Sour, and some credit him for adding Angostura bitters and egg whites, and his version became the widely accepted recipe. However, those who have come across the 1903 Cocktail recipe know that Bruijet cannot lay claim to the addition of these ingredients. Today, Pisco Sour is the national drink in Peru and Chile. The year of its invention remains unclear, but some believe that Morris was inspired by other drinks, such as Silver Sour and Whisky Sour. Whisky Sour is a cocktail made from lemon juice, whisky, sugar, and egg whites. As you can see, the only difference between Pisco Sour and Whisky Sour is the main alcohol used. Also, the addition of ice and Angostura bitters helped to distinguish it from Whisky Sour. It is said that since Whisky Sour had its first printed recipe in 1887, it is more than likely that Morris had come across it.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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