Local Deals: 120 * 90

In Search Of The Authentic Pisco Sour

  Between Peruvian Cafe' and Lounge in Wicker Park


The Wicker Park and Bucktown Pisco Sour Tour

By Katy Zupan

As the temperature still continues to creep up to 90 degrees what's better than a cold, refreshing, citrusy beverage that’s NOT a go-to margarita? Mix it up with a Pisco Sour, an authentic South American cocktail found in multiple bars and restaurants in the Wicker Park and Bucktown ‘hoods. You just have to know where to look.

Pisco is a brandy-like liquor distilled from grapes, most often contended as being of Peruvian descent and variant from the Spanish settlers, though Chile would dispute that claim. The headier title of Pisco Sour Originator is a sticky national-pride, century-long debate between the two countries, and we won’t even dream of taking sides here. What we can do is scout out and enjoy this creative and historically rich cocktail.

Lucky for those of us in Wicker Park and Bucktown, there are plenty of establishments that feature this delectable cocktail, typically made with pisco, lime or lemon juice, sugar, egg white and bitters. Three local South American-flair restaurants were visited on the pure unadulterated and gluttonous grounds of experiencing this subtly nuanced foreign cocktail: Rio’s D’Sudamerica, Folklore Argentine Grill, and Between Peruvian Café & Lounge.


First stop on this Pisco Sour Tour is Rio’s D’Sudamerica, admittedly this author’s favorite not-so-secret gem of a restaurant in Bucktown. Walking into Rio’s, you immediately feel transported out of Chicago, with the 30-foot floor to ceiling murals of the colonials landing in Peru, ancient ruins, and Cristo Redentor souring over Brazil and the underlit bar.


Blended with ample ice, Tabernero pisco, fresh lemon juice, sugar, egg whites and bitters, the Rio’s Pisco Sour is born as a frothily balanced, chilled drink. The Passion Fruit sour is another option, and at $8 a pop for either, can’t be beat. The $20 Friday couples prix fixe steal of empanadas, tamalito verde, aji de gallina, lomos saltado al pisco, and flan will seriously make you salivate.


Photo Courtesy of: We Are The Barkers-Folklore.

Next stop is Folklore Argentine Grill on Division. The dark hardwood interior with rustic finishes and lithe table candles is warm yet modern. Have patience here while the bartender crafts your Pisco Sour, as the vigorous shaking and freshly grated cinnamon make it well worth the wait. With beautiful angostura bitter trails topping off the generous martini glass, it’s an elegantly presented cocktail at $10 per drink. My party loved this variant, with its bright yet savory flavors and manageable acidity. The menu at Folklore is beef-heavy (beware, vegetarians), with chimichurri and parsley sauces adding a nice flavor to the perfectly grilled steaks.


Last stop on my Wicker Park and Bucktown Pisco Sour Tour is the aptly ascribed “Pisco Bar,” Between Peruvian Café & Lounge. The exposed brick wall, red chandeliers and fringe curtained lounge seating complete the sexy décor. Similar to Folklore, the Pisco Sour is also shaken but lacks the cinnamon accoutrement. The most boozy-tasting of the three, it’s slightly more sour but still clean and refreshing, particularly with the complimentary plantain chips and tasty mint and jalapeño dipping sauce. The ceviche clasico, with chunky tilapia, plump Andean corn, glazed sweet potato and plenty of lime juice, red onion and cilantro, is a perfect pisco pairing.


Grab some friends and visit these neighborhood establishments for yourself, and don’t miss out on the unique and versatile Pisco Sour. If you’ve come across this cocktail at other Wicker Park and Bucktown bars or restaurants not listed here, share the experience with us!



Rio’s D’Sudamerica

2010 W. Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

(773) 276-0170


Folklore Argentine Grill

2100 W. Division St., Chicago, IL 60622

(773) 292-1600


Between Peruvian Café & Lounge

1324 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622

(773) 292-0585

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