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Pisco Sour Month is Sweet at Tanta

Grab a glass of the classic cocktail at the restaurant that knows it best

February is known for Valentine’s Day and being the shortest month of the year, but it also celebrates a very special cocktail: the Pisco Sour. Peru’s signature cocktail comes in a variety of tasty forms, all of which pair well with the spicy Latin fare served at Tanta {118 W Grand Ave, Chicago; 312.222.9700}. The restaurant will be holding a special celebration that lasts the entire month of February with a weekly rotating Pisco Sour cocktail creation. This week diners can sip on a Rocoto Pisco Sour (Red Chili) and next week is the Classic Pisco Sour made with Pisco, egg white, lime, and bitters.

The River North restaurant is also donating 25-percent of the sales of the weekly specialty cocktails to Keith Relief, a Chicago-based non-profit founded by Chicago Blackhawks player, Duncan Keith, whose mission is to alleviate the financial and emotional burdens of families and individuals suffering from medical crisis.

Tomy Lokvicic, Tanta’s General Manger, gave us more details on the cocktail’s history, as well as the best food pairings for a delicious month ahead…

DiningOut: Tell us the background of the Pisco Sour:

Tomy Lokvicic: The Pisco Sour is said to have originated in Lima, Peru in the early 1920’s. An American bartender—Victor Morris—invented it as a twist on the then-popular Whiskey Sour, substituting local Pisco for the whiskey. Pisco Sour, Peru’s national cocktail, is a refreshing, frothy drink which at Tanta makes with BarSol Quebranta Pisco, freshly squeezed lime juice, egg whites, sugar, and Amargo Chuncho Peruvian bitters—the drink is always made to order. The drink’s name comes from pisco, which is the base liquor (a grape brandy made in the wine regions of Peru that natives and their South American neighbors have quaffed for centuries), and the cocktail term sour, is in reference to sour citrus juice and sugar components.


How does the drink fit into the menu of Tanta?

Tanta’s menu, conceived by famed chef and Peruvian food ambassador Gastón Acurio and curated by Tanta Chicago Executive Chef Jesus Delgado (a Peruvian native), offers a colorful culinary trip through Peru. Tanta showcases Peru’s geographical and ethnic diversity through its cuisine with a menu of shareable plates, from bright, citrusy cebiche (ceviche) to skewered grilled meat and fish and seasonal cocktails anchored by Peru’s national spirit, Pisco. The most notable of all Pisco cocktails is the Pisco Sour, which is also Tanta’s signature drink.

What are some good menu items or flavor profiles to pair with this cocktail? 

Named for the acidic, life-giving sauce incorporated in all cebiche dishes, Leche de Tigre, combines the chef’s selection of fish and shellfish cured in fresh citrus juice along with onion, garlic, chiles, and cilantro.

Chaufa Aeropuerto, an ode to the Canton immigrants who came to Peru in the 1800s, this dish comprises garlicky pork fried rice topped with a fluffy shrimp omelet. The stone bowl in which it’s served lends a crunchy texture to the rice on the bottom, much like authentic paella.

Pulpo Anticuchos, grilled octopus with fried garlic, creamy olive sauce, and herbaceous chimichurri are skewered for single bites reminiscent of Peruvian street food.

The staple Peruvian dish Lomo Saltado, in which strips of tender beef are stir-fried with onions and tomatoes and topped with thick-cut fries. 

How did the team concept the signature flavors?

Tanta’s bar team created the weekly rotating specialty Pisco Sour cocktails by drawing inspiration from exotic and colorful Peruvian ingredients like Maracuya (Peruvian passion fruit), Chicha Morada (traditional Peruvian beverage made with purple corn), Rocoto (Peruvian red chili), and of course, they will feature the classic Pisco Sour with egg whites, lime, and bitters.

What do you hope people experience when they dine with you?

It is said that the best way to learn about a place is through its food. Chicagoans with a desire to visit Peru need to travel no farther than the River North neighborhood, where Tanta restaurant takes guests on a culinary tour of this culturally and geographically diverse South American country. At Tanta, we make Peruvian cuisine approachable with knowledgeable, genuine, and attentive service to complement a menu of shareable plates.

By Kaleigh Glaza, Online Editor