Pisco is a popular South American spirit, officially defined as a grape brandy. It dates back to the 16th century when thrifty winemakers in Chile and Peru started looking for a way to use up leftover grapes or those deemed unsuitable for winemaking.
The pisco sour is a cocktail made in the same way you'd make a whisky sour: sugar, citrus, bitters and egg white join the base spirit to create something fresh, sharp and froth-topped. The cocktail was first created in the 1920s by an American bartender working in Lima, and has gained enormous popularity in South America since. In Peru, you could almost consider it part of the national identity — a little like a G&T over here.
This buzzy Soho restaurant was among the first to stir up some Peruvian love on London's food scene. While it deals primarily in Peru's classic marinated raw fish dish, it can also lay claim to being Europe's first dedicated pisco bar. Mix your sour up by replacing standard pisco with one of the own-made versions, infused with different fruits and spices.
Ceviche, 17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG
Ceviche's Shoreditch sister, Andina offers a broader range of traditional Peruvian dishes as well as a basement bar well-equipped to whip-up a pisco-based cocktail or dozen. Try the Pink Pisco Sour, which is topped up with sparkling rosé. And make sure you visit the built-in games room while you're there.
Andina, 1 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
This dark and brooding Soho haunt serves Nikkei cuisine, which brings together Peruvian and Japanese flavours and cooking styles. The cocktail list includes a fair splosh of pisco, including a sour made from a corn-infused version of the spirit. There's also live music.
Chotto Matte, 11-13 Frith Street, W1D 4RB
This swanky, stone-walled Mayfair restaurant and pisco bar couldn't feel much more South American, which is probably because it's modelled directly on some of the oldest bars you'll find in Lima. There's a decent range of tequilas and rums, but classic and home-infused piscos are what it's really all about.
Coya, 118 Piccadilly, W1J 7NW
London's first Michelin-starred Peruvian restaurant, this Fitzrovia spot also comes with a bar area loaded with pisco. Try the spirit in many-a creative combination. Or opt for a classic sour.
Lima, 31 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JH
This slightly more casual Covent Garden spin-off from the Fitzrovia original serves a form of 'Peruvian tapas' and has its own pisco bar. Here you can enjoy small plates of ceviche, grills and salads alongside pisco cocktails, including a pisco sour laced with passion fruit.
Lima Floral, 14 Garrick Street, WC2E 9BJ
This Marylebone small plates restaurant merges Peruvian flavours with the best of British ingredients, and does it rather well — read our review. There's also a stand-alone bar, where half of the cocktail list is dedicated to pisco, from the classic sours to a drink made with beetroot and tomato juice.
Pachamama, 18 Thayer Street, W1U 3JY
Brightly coloured Señor Ceviche in Carnaby's Kingly Court specialises — as the name suggests — in Peru's well-known raw fish dish, though grilled meats and more also feature. We visited when it first launched — read our review. A large section of its bar list is dedicated to pisco, and the team has reason to believe they've got the pisco sour down to a fine art (we agree).
Señor Ceviche, Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
You pay for the views as well as the drinks at this Heron Tower bar, but it's surely the highest-up pisco sour in London. Referencing the restaurant's Japanese and South American influences, one twist includes adding ginger and yuzu... though you can always ask for a classic.
Sushisamba, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
Essex Road's Tierra Peru was ahead of the curve when it opened in 2010. It overflows with welcoming Peruvian charm and low-priced traditional home cooking — but also prides itself on some bloody good pisco sours and other pisco cocktails.
Tierra Peru, 164 Essex Road, N1 8LY
This longstanding London Bridge spot was the capital's flagship Peruvian restaurant before it was cool to be one, and it's been slightly forgotten since. Both cooking and decor are decidedly more rustic than some, but arguably that makes it all the more authentic. It's more restaurant than bar, but the Peruvian staff know how to rustle up a decent pisco sour all the same.
Tito’s, 4-6 London Bridge Street, SE1 9SG