The illustrious pisco sour takes many forms. Whether it’s Peruvian or Chilean, herbaceous or fruit-forward, a zesty, refreshing summer drink sipped on an NYC rooftop bars, it’s undeniable that this versatile cocktail has long been one of New York City bar culture’s most underrated players—and it’s high time for a comeback. With its light body, tart citrus and frothy finish, the brandy-based sipper is a fresh and unique choice for warm-weather imbibing. See for yourself at these innovative bars in NYC, each doing its part to reintroduce New Yorkers to the wonders of the pisco sour.
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Best pisco sours in NYC
If you’re in the mood for a pisco sour, you go to Amaru. Beloved by Latin expats and locals alike, the sleek Jackson Heights tapas lounge proudly holds the title of New York City’s first official pisco bar. Amaru may also have the most exhaustive pisco-based cocktail menu in town, offering more than a dozen classic and original concoctions making use of upward of fifteen different types of pisco. Standouts include the Supay, a refreshing mix of pisco, cardamom tea, lemon juice, egg whites and black walnut bitters, and the eponymous Amaru, which blends orange-infused pisco with blood orange juice, lemon, egg whites, gum syrup and a dash of orange bitters for a wonderfully fragrant brunch-time treat. A word to the wise—this sexy industrial space turns into a bass-thumping, fist-pumping club come nightfall, so arrive early if you prefer your pisco with a side of chill.
Arepas! What’s not to love about Venezuela’s wildly addictive savory hand pies, bursting at the seams with spiced meats, beans and cheese? At Caracas’ rustically charming Williamsburg location, diners indulge in mountains of the steamy stuffed corn cakes, washing down the salty snacks with what happens to be one of Brooklyn’s best pisco sours. To make the fire-calming cocktail, Caracas’ bartenders draw on traditional ingredients like pisco, lime, egg white and Angostura bitters then add brown sugar syrup and cinnamon for a heartier, less sugary base. A few hard shakes and this soulful sour is ready to take on all the heavenly street food Latin America has to offer.
Pisco is due for a comeback—seriously. Even Clover Club’s legendary master mixologist Julie Reiner is hopping aboard the pisco train, adding a particularly flavorful pisco sour variation to her most recent seasonal list. As one of the borough’s top cocktail bars, this polished Carroll Gardens hangout never fails to please even the most cultured connoisseurs with its Bible-like beverage menu and refined pub fare. The pisco drinks are on par here—the nectary Nice Pear combines Peruvian pisco, pear brandy, citrusy Velvet Falernum, lemon, aromatic bitters and a splash of sweet moscato over ice for a brunch-worthy experience that feels like the first day of spring. Follow that up with a classic pisco sour shaken to perfection by Clover Club’s knowledgeable barkeeps and you’ll be pledging allegiance to the power of pisco in no time.
This gorgeously designed Williamsburg cevicheria has been delighting Brooklynites with its mouthwatering raw bar and inventive cocktail list since it blessed the neighborhood with its presence in 2013. A date-night destination for those in the know, Desnuda’s low profile—the port-holed facade remains unmarked—only adds to the dimly lit haunt’s romantic appeal, and the pisco-centric bar program is guaranteed to impress any adventurous drinkers. From the classic pisco sour made with the supremely balanced Barsol Quebranta Pisco to the crowd-pleasing Honeycomb pisco sour, a spicy-sweet combination of Alto del Carmen aged pisco, ginger, honey, lemon, egg whites and pimento bitters, Desnuda’s barkeeps sure know how to shake up a fantastic Latin cocktail.
Follow Metropolitan Avenue through the ever-expanding Williamsburg matrix past Bushwick lofts, bespoke cocktail bars and vegan coffee shops and you’ll find La Coya, Forest Hills’ only Peruvian-Asian pisco bar. This Queens newcomer has been drawing customers east with its boundary-pushing Asian-Latin fusion cuisine, friendly service and delicious cocktails for almost a year now. Sidle up to the bar, take in a Mets game and pick your poison from the diverse pisco-based menu, where options range from the tropically tart Passion Fruit Pisco Sour to fun alternatives like the rejuvenating Pisco Mojito. La Coya even offers a pisco-spiked Long Island iced tea for brave souls looking to spice up their outer borough adventure.
At the Hell’s Kitchen La Pulperia, the atmosphere might be casual, but the attention to delicious and authentically prepared South American cocktails is anything but. Whether you’re dropping by the cozy subterranean bistro for an intimate dinner on an otherwise bustling, touristy block or joining in for the ever-raucous drag brunch, you can’t go wrong with just about any cocktail on the well-curated list. House mixologist Juan Bautista shakes up a mean Inca Rosa, flavored with maraschino liquor, guava puree, a dash of hibiscus salt and of course the almighty pisco—Pisco 100 in this case.
Stop into Livingston Manor after a long, hard day and you’re in for a treat—or two or three. The breezy Downtown Brooklyn cocktail bar gets crowded with loose ties and cuffed sleeves, elbows bent over daiquiri glasses, high balls and plates piled high with charcuterie. Firmly situated in one of the borough’s most heavily trafficked neighborhoods, this sleek spot offers a little something for everyone, from Narragansett tall boys to rare local drafts, bubbly Lambrusco and thoughtful, original cocktails. Of particular note is the Villa Roma, Livingston Manor’s spirited take on the pisco sour. This playful cocktail hinges on a delicate blend of spicy, smoky and soothing flavors, a mix of pisco, mezcal, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, lime, house-made gum syrup, egg white and Angostura bitters, shaken hard and finished with a dusting of cinnamon and fiery cayenne. The result is lip-tingling bliss, each indulgent sip beckoning the lucky drinker back for another...and another.
To say that the talented team behind Raymi takes its pisco sours very seriously would be an understatement. The chic Flatiron eatery offers not only an expertly crafted classic pisco sour made with smooth Pisco 100, lime, egg whites and bitters but also creative variations on the Latin staple like the effervescent Chilcanos (Pisco 100, lime, ginger ale, bitters) and the elegant Quinoa Old Fashioned, a blend of grassy Barsol Pisco quebranta, rich Amaro Ciociaro and sweet quinoa syrup. What better way to wash down that hefty serving of perfectly tender charred octopus and succulent hanger steak Anticucho?
Saxon + Parole may be famous citywide for its DIY Bloody Mary bar, but the award-winning cocktail program at this shabby-chic downtown joint extends far beyond tomato juice and vodka. The Sunday-morning patrons munching on French toast and poached eggs in the airy corner bar and restaurant would do well to swap their highballs for a Stone Pisco Sour, an invigorating blend of pine tree cordial, citrus, egg whites and bitters. Smooth, complex and pleasantly spiced, this clever libation is well on its way to putting that Bloody Mary bar out of business.
Make it at home
Kings County Brewers Collective
In the late 1800s, Bushwick was known as Brewer’s Row, thanks to its 14 local breweries and thriving beer scene. Kings County Brewers Collective hopes to bring that back. The first to set up shop in the neighborhood since Schaefer closed in 1976, this brewery, warehouse and taproom brews all its suds on the premises. The selection of beers changes seasonally, but on a recent visit, bartenders were pouring the Beggar’s Gold Belgian Ale ($5), Formula Check American Pale Ale ($5), Full Contact: Raspberry Sour Ale ($5), IPA ($6), Marble of Doom Sour Ale ($6), Monsieur Maniac ($5), What We Don’t See Imperial Stout ($5) and Rainmaker Stout ($5), plus Descendent Succession Cider ($6). Want to drink it later? You can buy one of the collective’s 32-ounce crowlers—a cross between a growler and an aluminum can—to take most of the brews on tap to go ($10-$14, depending on the beer).
Venue says: “What's the scariest part of a drink & draw? Figuring out what to draw, of course. So Thursday the 20th we'll take the fear away! $1 off beer”