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Vanilla Bean & Cardamom Pisco Sour

Slofoodgroup Team December 05, 2019

Frothy Pisco Sour with Cardamom, Clove, and Vanilla Simple Syrup

The bars that carry pisco seem to be few and far between, though I can’t imagine why this is. Anytime I see pisco on a bar menu, I know I have to test the mixologist’s version of a Pisco sour. What is pisco? Simply put, it is a brandy born of fermented grapes that are first turned into wine and then distilled into a high-proof liquor. There are two varieties—Chilean and Peruvian, both following distinct distilling guidelines, which sets them apart in flavor. 

Whether from Chile or Peru, though, one thing is for certain—pisco makes a delicious sour cocktail! This being the case, the Pisco sour has become the national cocktail of both countries.

It may look and sound like an intimidating cocktail to make on your own, but the pisco sour is actually quite easy to make. The key ingredients are pisco, lime juice, and simple syrup. Peru takes it a step further by adding bitters, and egg white. Oftentimes, the lime is swapped out for lemon in the Chilean variety of the cocktail. 

I prefer the Peruvian variety of Pisco Sour, with the frothy egg white and aromatic bitters. 

While making it one evening, my attention focused on the aroma of the bitters and I began to contemplate other flavors that would take this fantastic drink to a new level. After a few attempts, I finally found the perfect combination! 

I started by concocting a simple syrup, using a blend of clove, vanilla bean, and cardamom to incorporate a subtle spice and deep notes of vanilla into the drink. I also added more eggwhites than one would typically use in the traditional Peruvian pisco sour and I used a combination of fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices because lemon and vanilla work so well together. 

The flavor was outstanding and the little flecks of vanilla seed rose to the top of the glass with the frothy egg whites, adding to the aesthetic appeal of the drink!

Vanilla and Cardamom Spiced Pisco Sour

Yields: 2 cocktails 


  • 1 teaspoon vanilla caviar
  • 2 cardamom pods, smashed
  • 2 cloves, slightly smashed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces Pisco
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 ounce juice of Meyer lemon
  • 1.5  ounces juice of key lime
  • Angostura bitters or Chuncho bitters (preferred)


  1. Add the water, sugar, vanilla seeds, cloves, and cardamom pods to a small saucepan and bring to a boil then turn down to simmer. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has entirely dissolved and remove from the burner. Let sit at room temperature until it has cooled. Leave the cardamom in the syrup to further infuse the flavor, but strain to remove the cardamom pods prior to using in drinks. This is your cardamom vanilla simple syrup and can be made well in advance. You will need 2 ounces for this recipe. Reserve the rest for future cocktails.
  2. Place several cubes of ice in your glasses and fill with cold water. This will chill your glasses while you are making the cocktails. 
  3. Add your egg whites, 3 ounces of simple syrup, and pisco to the shaker and shake furiously for about 30 seconds. 
  4. Add the lemon and lime juices to the shaker and fill with ice. Shake furiously again for another 30 seconds or so. This will make your beverage incredibly frothy. 
  5. Dump the ice and water from the glasses and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass. Let the drink sit for a minute so the frothy eggwhite settles at the top. 
  6. Add a few drops of the bitters to the top of the beverage.

Serving Suggestions

The bitters and the frothy eggwhites provide an opportunity for enhancing the aesthetic appeal of this beverage with a little artistic flair. Use a toothpick or cocktail stirrer to drag the bitters into the design of your choosing. Hearts and cosmic swirls are so simple, yet quite impressive. No garnishment is needed but, should feel you need to kick your presentation up a notch, try a citrus twist. 

You can scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean for this beverage, but I love having these pre-scraped vanilla bean seeds on hand for ease!