February 2, 2011 16:18:45 | in cuisine
|Pisco sours are the cocktail of preference at weekend fairs and handicraft markets in Peru's capital. Jane García Mallqui, shown here in Lima's Parque de la Exposición, talks about the economics of the pisco sour stand.
By Nathan Paluck
In Lima, where there is a fair there will be a pisco sour stand. From handicraft markets in Barranco to permanent setups at Parque de la Exposición, a common theme is the call of "pisco sour?" from the young female workers called "jaladoras."
While the quality of the sours vary at the small mobile bars, LivinginPeru.com found one with a solid cocktail and decided to interview its owner, Jane García Mallqui. The former jaladora now owns stands that set up in fairs around Lima. Here, Jane responds to ten questions about the life of a pisco sour seller. How much does your pisco sour cost, and how are the profits?
I sell a small pisco sour for five soles and my profit is around four soles. It's really good. Alcohol sales are always really good.
What time and what days do pisco sours sell best at your stand?
It depends on the place. Where I've been working lately in Barranco, it's an area where people go out at night. People start going out at 7 p.m. until 2 and 3 in the morning, usually on weekends starting Thursday. On Sundays people go out on afternoons with their friends, families, their lovers [laughs].
Are tourists familiar with the pisco sour?
|"When they are seated in front of you, few will fail to order."
A lot of people have heard of it since it's the national drink. There are many tourists that come and already know about it, the majority. They've already tried it somewhere else; you offer it and they say “sí, sí.”
How do you communicate with tourists?
A lot of tourists who come here know basic Spanish. “Un pisco sour, por favor. Cuánto cuesta?” And all tourists know how to say “una cerveza más!” But it is difficult to have a conversation.
What's the funniest thing you've seen at your stand?
The funniest thing – well, really the most embarrassing – was when the cocktail shaker opened up and the pisco sour exploded all over my shirt. Can you believe it? I was rushing and the shaker opened on me. I was so embarrassed. The customers laughed, some lady offered to help me clean up.
When there is a fair with many stands, how do you compete?
I don't lower the price. The important thing is to “jalar,” call people over. Tell them you're going to treat them to a drink, then put the menu in front of them. Then tell them, “take a seat.” When they are seated in front of you, few will fail to order. And most importantly, if you treat the client right, they will return.
How many kilograms of limes do you use every day?
Eight to ten kilos a day. And when it's the Pisco Sour Festival we go to La Parada to buy them by the box.
The wholesale market. It's at the very end of Avenida Aviación. I go with my business partner, and it's cheap there. It's best to buy the limes in the wooden cartons. They are big and juicy, really green. That's what you need for a good pisco sour.
Do you sell other cocktails?
Maracuya sour and algarrobina cocktail, for example. The algarrobina is well known and has egg yolk. Pisco sour is the most popular, though. Generally women like a 3-1½-1 [the ratio between pisco, sugar and lime]. Men like it more 3-1-1, because it's a bit more dry. When someone shows up who knows their pisco, you need to give them a better brand.
Do you dream about pisco sours?
Yeah, I've dreamed a lot about working at the bar. I'm always calling people over, telling them to sit down for a pisco sour.
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