A maracuya sour is a wonderfully fruity twist on the Peruvian favorite, the pisco sour, with bright, fragrant passion fruit added into the mix. The result is a delicious combination of fruity, sweet-tart flavors that's refreshing with a pisco kick.
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In recent years, I have loved seeing a growing appreciation of Peruvian food outside of Peru, though it is still generally less well known. Which is a shame, as I thoroughly loved the food on my visits, and have made a number at home.
Hopefully over time, more people will get to know wonderful dishes like aji de gallina (a chicken stew with a creamy nutty sauce), papa a la Huancaina (potatoes with a chili-cheese sauce) and tiradito (like sahimi with a spicy sauce).
The sour family of cocktails
Cocktails have families too! Or maybe you could say there are styles that you can change slightly with different spirits or additions. In any event, sours is one group that is one of my favorites.
Sours are essentially three components:
- a spirit/liquor base - whiskey is of course one of the best known, but you can also use gin, brandy and less common bases like in my calvados sour.
- a 'sour' component, typically citrus juice - many sours are made with lemon, with lime probably the next most popular.
- a sweetener, typically simple syrup - this helps to balance the flavors of the drink.
Some accounts suggest the basic sour style was created based on sailor rations. Lime or lemons were common on board ships as a way to help prevent scurvy. Given many enjoyed a drink, too, it's no big leap the two merged. Another argument is the citrus watered down the spirit to save the sailors drinking too much too fast.
At that point, the sweet component may not have been added yet. The drink continued being made back on land, but then through things like Prohibition and changing tastes, they went out of fashion.
Thankfully, though (in my mind), that has changed. These days, most bar cocktail menus will feature at least something on the sour theme, or some of it's adjacent cocktail families like a smash or collins. But lets not confuse things.
What is pisco?
Pisco is generally considered the national drink of Peru and is technically a type of brandy, meaning it is distilled wine or fermented grape juice. However the flavor is very different from a French cognac, for example.
One of the big differences between pisco and European brandies, is that the latter take on a lot of flavor during aging. They rest in oak barrels which add flavor, as well as color, to the final spirit.
Pisco, meanwhile, is all about the base spirit. It has a number of controls that limit the type of grapes used and regions it can be made in. That's because the grape flavor is more dominant. Producers can also only use a single distillation and must distill to proof (so no water added after). It then rests for a few months, but in a non-reactive container (I found this article interesting to explain some of the details on production).
To be fair, some might say it's on the harsher side, since it doesn't have quite the same 'mellowing'. But you can find variety in there and it's definitely a spirit worth exploring. And it's a great base for a cocktail, like Peru's favorite the pisco sour.
A fruity variation
Unlike some cocktail variations that are more recent bartender creations, the maracuya sour is one that belongs to Peru as well. Passion fruit grow well in some areas of the country, and it's flavors are a natural fit in this drink.
Top tip: passion fruit options
For this, you don't necessarily need fresh passion fruit, and in fact other options are easier as they don't have seeds. Either passion fruit nectar or defrosted frozen passion fruit works well here.
Passion fruit has that great sweet-tart flavor that mirrors the flavor profile of sours, then the aromatic side is a further great addition. A passion fruit margarita is another of my favorite cocktails with a similar mix of tart, fruity and tropical vibes.
This passion fruit pisco sour, or maracuya sour as it is known in Peru, is a wonderfully bright, sweet-tart and aromatically fruity cocktail. It has just enough kick that you can taste the pisco, but with wonderful passion fruit flavors mellowing it out, too. Perfect to enjoy any excuse.
Try these other fruity cocktails:
- Raspberry caipirinha (a delicious berry twist on the classic cachaca and lime cocktail)
- Blackberry bourbon smash (the berries add a wonderful depth and pair so well with the bourbon)
- Cava sangria (a lovely combination of bubbles, citrus and more)
- Plus get more cocktail recipes in the archives.
Maracuya sour (passion fruit pisco sour)
- 2 fl oz pisco
- 1 ½ fl oz passion fruit juice
- ½ fl oz lime juice
- ½ fl oz simple syrup
- 1 egg white (1 egg white is approx 2 tbsp/30ml/1oz)
- 2 drops aromatic bitters ie Angostura or similar; or can use orange, optional
- Add pisco, passion fruit nectar, lime juice, simple syrup and egg white to a cocktail shaker then shake well.
- Add plenty of ice, shake again then strain into a glass. Top with a couple dashes of bitters, if using.