*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed ’em in this week’s Dig.
by Pink Lady
If you’ve ever tried a Pisco Sour, you know the delights of the frothy drink, particularly the warm glow that steals over you after several sips. If you’re scratching your head and wondering, “WTF is Pisco???” do yourself a favor and read on.
Pisco is a distilled grape spirit that hails from Peru or Chile and is made from unique regional varietals. It’s born much in the same way as cognac or brandy, but is aged in stainless steel versus wood so typically has little to no discernible color. In its pre-Prohibition heyday, Pisco Punch was all the rage in the bars of San Francisco, with some bars devoted to serving that drink and nothing else. As the story so often goes, Prohibition nearly erased both pisco and punch from American cocktail landscape.
There are four different styles of pisco: pisco aromatica, pisco puro (single varietal), pisco acholado (a blend of aromatic and non-aromatic muscat grape clones), and pisco mosto verde (made from partially fermented grape juice.) Laws are less strict in Chile but in Peru, the production of pisco is highly regulated. A competitive marketplace yields great styles.
As a category pisco emphasizes place over process, allowing flavors of the grape to shine through by using stainless steel instead of wood for aging. Peruvian pisco is typically distilled just once or twice, and laws stipulate that the spirit cannot be rectified post-distillation so it must be distilled to proof. The quality of the grape is the measure of the distiller’s skill.
One brand of which are particularly fond is Macchu Pisco, helmed by the fabulous Melanie da Trindade-Asher. Her family-owned company also produces La Diablada, an acholado made from Quebranta, Italia, and Moscatel grapes. It’s floral, smooth, and extremely aromatic and an exciting way to try your favorite pisco cocktails. Sample a Pisco Sour with both and be changed.
1.5 oz Macchu Pisco or La Diablada
1 oz simple syrup
.75 oz fresh lemon or lime juice
1 oz egg white
Combine the pisco, simple syrup, citrus juice, and egg white in a mxing glass. Dry shake to emulsify, then add ice and shake long and hard. Strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish by sprinkling angostura bitters onto the egg white foam.