How to Make an Angostura-Scorched Pisco Sour

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I’m a big fan of Jamie Boudreau’s website Spirits and Cocktails. The writing is engaging, the photography is brilliant, and his techniques push the boundaries of mixology. So when I read about how Jamie would brulée brandied cherries with a Misto filled with 151-proof rum and Angostura bitters, I was inspired.

And I immediately thought: this sounds like a perfect treatment for the Pisco Sour.

You see, a Pisco Sour is made with egg white, and shaking the hell out of the drink creates a thick, foamy head on the cocktail. And while the traditional garnish for a Pisco Sour is a couple of drops of bitters in the foam, but I’ve never been particularly impressed with the way these few paltry drops of bitters sat in their little egg-white mattress and didn’t play along with the rest of the drink.

So when I read about Jamie taking the old Angostura flamethrower to his drinks, I envisioned a Pisco Sour with a uniformly-distributed bitters-scorched foam: slightly crisp as the fire burnt the sugars, and slightly warm as the foam insulated the rest of the frosty cocktail from the heat. A pisco creme brulée in a glass!

Although I had some great test-runs with the 151, I was missing the intensity I was looking for. Jamie wrote and suggested I try Stroh 80, which is 160-proof rum that has a distinct aroma of butterscotch and packs a wallop of alcoholic punch which is well-suited to lighting things on fire (thanks, Jamie!)

Anyway, I won’t bother you with a Pisco Sour recipe at this time, especially since so many others have written about such matters more eloquently than I could hope to do. What I’m going to do is show you how I scorch my Pisco Sour foam. And yes, this is on the menu at El Vaquero.

First off, grab yourself a Misto. You can find them just about anywhere you find kitchen supplies. And don’t get the vermouth sprayer, get yourself the Big Boy.

Next, fill your Misto with two ounces of Angostura bitters and two ounces of Stroh 80 rum. Cap your Misto and shake to mix the two ingredients. Pump your sprayer full of air and get ready to get pyrotechnic.

** Disclaimer: You’re about to spray a stream of flammable liquid toward an open flame. Be careful, and don’t point it at anyone or anything other than the cocktail. You could seriously harm yourself or others, so don’t be a dick.

Light a match or strike up a lighter about 4 inches from the top of your already-prepared Pisco Sour. Carefully spray your Misto toward the drink, through the open flame, burning the top of the drink. Here, watch this (sorry, video was taken down)

When you’re done, the foam should look something like this:

piscofoam.jpg

The fire will really open up the aromatics in the Anogstura, and when served immediately, the foam will be a real treat for the senses. It’s been a big hit at the bar these past few weeks, so grab a Misto and try it for yourself!

34 Replies to “How to Make an Angostura-Scorched Pisco Sour”

  • Goddamn!

    Nice one!

    I’ve wanted to do something similar since I read about Baristas serving coffee drinks with bruleed foam toppings. Why should coffee jerks get all the fun?

    Using the Angostura flamethrower on a Pisco Sour is genius!

  • McAuliflower says:

    Great picture! I’m trying not to think of how fire likes to run up its fuel source…

  • Dan says:

    It’s things like this that make me want to become a bartender.

    Awesome.

  • Jimmy says:

    You are killing me! I ran up to the Golden Gate Bridge, and I threw my boston shaker into the San Francisco Bay. I quit. THIS is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

  • I like fire as much as the next guy, Jeffrey, but I do think that, as cool as this is, it misses the point of the bitters in the Pisco Sour. The way I see it, it’s all about aromatic subtlety, with the few drops of bitters providing an olfactory addition to the flavour of the drink. And since we all taste more with our sense of smell than we do with our actual tastebuds, the bitters are playing with the rest of the drink, just in a different manner than if they were shaken into the Sour.

    Or to put it all in beer terms, the traditional Pisco Sour is a dry-hopped British best bitter, while your creme brulée version is a west coast IPA.

  • Jimmy says:

    Ha! Stephen, you obviously DON’T like fire as much as the next guy.

  • First things first, the bitters of a Pisco sour should always be on TOP of the sour, not mixed within. The reason for this is as Stephen says; olfactory pleasure. Passing angostura through flame (or cooking any Indian spices)really enhances it’s aroma and flavor, therefore acheiving in a more effecient manner the perfumed purpose of bitters in a Pisco Sour.
    Jeffrey, try using the “brulee” with “molecular” foams as well. They actually brulee, and you have the addition of aromatized bitters as well as a “cooked” foam, which adds more aroma but also slightly changes the flavor of the foam. I use to do this a couple of years back when I was at Lumiere, to fantastic effect.

  • Marleigh says:

    Oh man. That is SO COOL.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Jamie

    I think I saw an iSi whipper in the pantry kitchen recently, so I’m going to give this a try sometime this week.

    Thanks!

  • Sean Bigley says:

    FUCKING BRILLIANT!

    I can’t wait to try it myself.

    Cheers!

  • Jeffrey says:

    HAHAHAHA!

    Thanks, Sean!!

  • Churba says:

    I’ll be thieving that one for home use, but illegal to make flaming drinks in Queensland Bars, unfortunately, so no work shenanigans.

  • Lisa Bigley says:

    Since I won’t use Sean’s language (ha-ha) and you made me go shopping (yeah, right) for a Misto…this was still beyond incredible!

    Sean was making these last night at Bellagio and it blew us away! Now I can’t drink a Pisco Sour any other way.

    Gee, thanks Jeff!

    p.s. This is going to show up on our website too!

  • Jeffrey says:

    Lisa

    Now, that, is f’ing brilliant. Thanks for trying out the technique, and I’m glad you guys are enjoying it. I might have to come hang out at the Bellagio sooner than February!

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  • Ali says:

    I really need to spend more time reading your articles.
    As you know I like anything that adds a little flair behind the bar!
    This is a good one.

  • John Claude says:

    We’re getting Pisco and Stroh in our next liquor order and I just bought a Misto off of Amazon. Can’t wait to pull this one out on the patrons.

  • Jacob Grier says:

    Very cool. Tried it out last night. My pisco sour recipe needs some adjustment, but the scorched top was a treat. Thanks for posting!

  • Keith says:

    I just picked up a Misto to try this as well. How much would you like to wager there was a distict spike in Misto sales after you posted this GENIUS idea?

    Keep up the good work.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Awwww, thanks, Keith! Maybe I should approach the fine folks at Misto to talk about a sponsorship deal?

  • Tiare says:

    Your idea is just brilliant! and very inspiring.

    I tried this with the Pisco and with one of my own drinks that has a Campari and Strawberry honey foam and it was nice..real nice, but i haven`t yet managed to get that nice pattern on the foam as you have. I more get a bruleed color..maybe i should burn a bit closer? or use a different spirit,i used Angostura and LH 151.

  • Tiare – I got the flamethrower idea from Jamie B., he recommended using Stroh 80 for a little extra heat.

  • Derek says:

    Would love to try it, but a bit concerned about the danger factor. anyone think it would be less risky to use just a regular, non-pressurized, sprayer? Would this reduce the effectiveness of the technique?

  • Derek – While I can’t speak for the safety of either method, I can say that I’d imagine it to be equally effective. Give it a shot and let us know.

  • Derek says:

    Am i reading this right? 2oz of bitters? Isn’t that like half the bottle? Looking forward to trying this (just realized I still have an unopened misto i got as a gift 5 years ago), but wanted to double check this before I empty the entire bottle, drop by drop.

    BTW, was great to meet you! (We stopped by Clyde Common friday night, visiting from SF. After trying your richmond gimlet, that’s all my friends ordered the rest of the night!)

  • Jeff Whitmore says:

    Ok I’ve read your blog for a while now and now my wife and I are coming down to see if you mix as well as you write…I think one of these scorched pisco sours will suite her just fine. Looking forward to the event!

  • Jan P. says:

    Hey Jeffrey,
    I really enjoy your site! You inspired me as well as all the others here and your scorched PS is really nice. Thank you for inspiration and keep up the good work. 🙂 J

  • Jason says:

    here is the problem: there are things called torches that are specially designed to keep the flame out front. I am pretty sure, but not certain, that you are taking some risk that the flame could get sucked back into your mister, transforming it into something like a grenade.

  • David Michalowski says:

    The flame is a cool touch. I also put Angostura in a cosmetic spray bottle mister and have layered the foam with a fine mist of the bitters. It works great, opens up the aromatics as well, and leaves a very evenly coated foam with the sweet/spicy flavors. Here is the link to the cheap/effective spray bottles:

    http://www.amazon.com/Fantasea-Fine-Mist-Spray-Bottle/dp/B000NJHNLW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1308260098&sr=8-3

  • Phil says:

    No need to worry if you’re concerned with the dangers of holding a “grenade” in your hands. Along with being a cocktail enthusiasts I also am a Firefighter and the only danger here burning yourself. The chances of the flame going in to can are as slim as being hit by lighting, I won’t bore you with the details but really it’s safe.

  • video is no longer available .. was looking fwd to some pyrotechnic action 🙂

  • I’m spraying the lighter flame and it just puts out the flame, at best. What am I doing wrong???

  • Garrett Nothern says:

    Video?!

  • Brad says:

    Thomas, I had the same problem at first. I found that ignition was more easily achieved if I started to spray, and then swept my ignition source across the stream, instead of just blasting directly through my flame.

  • JT says:

    Thomas, Brad’s technique should help as long as your mixture is readily flammable but you might also try a windproof lighter.

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