Guillermo L. Toro-Lira
Almost everything is known about Morris’ Bar (Bar Morris in Spanish), the place where the first Pisco Sour—the banner representative of pisco—was created.
We know who founded the bar and when; who were its bartenders and its visitors; when it had a popularly peak and its period of decadence (1). We know much about the biography of Vic Morris, its founder (2). But an undoubted photograph of the bar’s interior was elusive.
By destiny’s fate, a diligent researcher turned to the fourth page of the Peruvian magazine El Ring of November 28th, 1924 and stumbled upon an advertisement of Bar Morris with a photograph of three men posing behind the bar (3).
The photograph shows a bar with three main sections of three bottle shelves each. At the left, above the bar, an electric ventilator, a modern technological novelty of the time. To the right, a raised clock with a mirror, an indispensable tool for the visitors that were passing by in Lima. Below the clock, a sign that reads: “NO SE FIA NI SE ACEPTAN VALES” (“No credit or IOUs accepted”). Even though is not shown in the photo, it is known it had a metal bar for the visitors’ foot rest.
The picture shows Victor Morris to the left, wearing a classic straw hat. Next to him, two bartenders, one of them a teenager. This boy, without a doubt, is Mario Bruiget, who it is known began working at the bar in July of that year, at approximately 15 years of age (4). The other bartender could very well be Hernán Bruiget, Mario’s older brother and a bar employee since 1919. The photo is from the beginning of the bar’s peak period of popularity (1925).
The advertisement has five ABAAB rhyming quintet type poems below the photograph (translated to English, without the rhyme):
Due to its popular prices,
its excellent liquors,
and its soft “low tides”,
it is, among all the bars,
the best of the best.
If black melancholy
appears in your spirit,
drink a “strawberry cocktail”
and you will change your sadness
into ineffable joy.
There is no better aperitif,
it is unique, singular,
and also is an active
and pleasant digestif
the “pisco” of the Morris Bar.
If boredom makes you inert,
then wet your lip
with “pisco sauer [phonetic translation of sour]” and oh! luck!
you will feel stronger
and more powerful and wiser …!
They are select, exemplary
the liquors of the Bar Morris,
and at prices so popular
that it is, for everything, among the bars
the best of the best.
This advertisement completes the circle of the history of the place were pisco’s banner cocktail was created. Cheers to Vic Morris with a Pisco Sour!
1. Analysis of the Morris’ Bar Visitors Register (1916-1929)
2. The Life and Passions of Victor V. Morris, Creator of the Pisco Sour
3. Libreria Inestable (Carlos Carnero)
4. Mario Bruiget, el peruano que co-inventó el Pisco Sour actual (edited in Spanish).
© G. Toro-Lira, 2021, 2022. All Rights Reserved (for re-publication elsewhere, in whole or in part, please contact the author).