By Sheryl Craig

Consider your first sip of a pisco sour your first class ticket to an exotic location. Originating in South America, this light and frothy cocktail is an international classic enjoyed worldwide. Made from distilled grapes and rooted in Peruvian and Chilean lore, the mixed drink was crafted by American Victor Morris at the renowned Morris’ Bar in Lima, Peru.  Today the pisco sour stands up. A sip anytime, anywhere can instantly transport a person. The pisco sour is elegantly served straight up garnished with a few drops of bitters leaving behind the drink’s iconic marking. While popular on most happy hour and cocktail menus at restaurants specializing in South American cuisine, pisco sours are enjoying a resurgence in bars and lounges throughout Los Angeles.

Los Balcones
1360 Vine St.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 871-9600
Los Balcones celebrates a pisco sour, not just because the cocktail utilizes pisco, the beloved Peruvian national spirit. Known for elevating the culture, cuisine and spirit of Peru, Los Balcones offers guests a space that enwraps family tradition with a contemporary vibe. The Los Balcones bar shakes up the pisco sour OG while presenting a couple of new versions this season.  The Don Carlos, named after the father of the Rodriguez brothers (Jorge, Eduardo and Walter) and owners of Los Balcones, is a Southern Peruvian favorite, created with three ounces of pisco quebranta instead the traditional 2 ounce version. And, the Dona Alicia is a version dedicated to their mom. This pisco sour incorporates seasonal fresh fruits with pisco Torotel. Also known for showcasing special pisco tastings, Los Balcones often replaces whiskey or rum with pisco in Old Fashioneds or Hotel Nationals.
Lock & Key
239 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(213) 389-5625
Luka McAuley, mixologist at Lock & Key, makes a Chilean pisco sour following the Peruvian method. Key limes are balanced against the sweetness of the pisco, so a traditional 1:1 ratio of citrus to sugar is dismissed, and the sugar is nudged back a tad. The Lock & Key bar relies on Angostura bitters, with its bark and cinnamon flavors to leave the red trail atop the egg white froth. But what is most important is the shake. With a full egg white, only a reverse shake is good enough. A hard shake over ice until the tin is frosted, then strained, only to be shaken again until forearms tremble and shoulders strain. What emerges is a beautiful tribute American’s abroad and foreign travelers embraced here at home, frothy and delicious. Lock & Key is Koreatown’s newest cocktail den with an ideal chic ambience featuring spirit tastings, chef pop-ups, jazz parties and cocktailing, of course.
11647 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(424) 273-1660
The Velvet Rose from Baltaire, a Westside classic-meets-contemporary steakhouse, is a SoCal riff on the classic pisco sour. Pisco, orange bitters, velvet falernum (a sweet syrup used in tropical drinks), and rose water give this drink that endless-summer flavor of the L.A. lifestyle. Sip this cocktail in Baltaire’s dimly lit lounge, which features an intimate setting with herringbone and plaid patterned furniture, brown leather Chesterfield couches, an indoor fireplace and a baby grand piano for live musical performances. The Baltaire cocktail menu also features modern interpretations of Prohibition-era classics, an extensive collection of premium and rare single malt Scotches, cognac, brandy and a grand selection of California and imported craft beers.
The Normandie Club
3612 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 263-2709
Just around the corner from Hotel Normandie resides The Normandie Club where the pisco sour is precise and spellbinding. Sipping this time-honored cocktail within the K-Town bar is a memorable experience. Served in a coupe glass, an old-school English champagne glass, The Normandie Club’s pisco sour is traditionally crafted with pisco, fresh lime juice, egg whites, bitters and simple syrup. If you are a pisco fan, the club’s watermelon Swizzle is a sweet (but not too sweet) drink created with pisco. What makes this bar special other than its flawless cocktails, is its ambience. Embodying secret doors, a covert galley-like back patio, high top tables and dark red vinyl cushioned banquettes, it’s quite the place for a night out.
9575 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 277-0133

Picca is a modern family-style cantina for traditional Peruvian cuisine combined with Southern California flair. For those seeking out a first-ever pisco sour, Picca does this South American cocktail serious justice. And, for the more discerning tongue, Picca offers Hot for Chicha this fall. The cantina describes this cocktail as “effervescent, fruity and refreshing.” Crafted with Noble pisco, Prosseco, Encanto Grand, the beverage focuses on a specialty house made chicha morado, a sweet simple syrup made from purple corn, apples, pineapple skin, cinnamon, cloves and fresh lime. Each mixed drink serves its purpose and compliments any of the Picca tapas or dishes including ceviche, carne (anticucho corazon is a must), pescado and verduros.