America’s New Latin Sweetheart, The Pisco Sour
According to the Barsol sponsored seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, Pisco makers see the mojito as the drink that opened the door for the next big South American craze. Personally, I see the caipirinha as the ice-breaker for the Pisco Sour… but anyway… who cares. I’m already a pisco fan and happy to see it spreading in popularity as our steamy love affair with Latin America continues to sizzle.
If you’ve been reading The Liquid Muse from the beginning, you may recall last year’s post titled “Sour Grapes?” on the battle over the Pisco Sour as a national drink between Chile and Peru. I even asked the Chilean Ambassador about it when interviewing him for my upcoming article in the September 2007 issue of Capitol File. As far as its “terroire” both Chile and Peru have the right to claim the pisco liquor, although the town of Pisco lies on the Peruvian coast. However, Chile currently produces more pisco than Peru. And, both countries are avid consumers.
When the Spanish colonized South America in the 1600’s, they brought grape vine roots to plant vineyards for the monks to make sacrificial wine. The grapes flourished to such an extent (hello – Chilean wines…) that there was a surplus of produce. That juice was then distilled into a clear, distilled spirit - basically an un-aged brandy. And, voila – a grappa-esque eau de vie was available. (But, don’t be confused. It is different from grappa in that it is made from skinned fruits, where as grappa is made from grape skins and stems.)
And, it didn’t stop there! Some of the Spanish ships stopped in the pisco regions, picked up this new spirit, and continued their journey north into the area of the New World now known affectionately as San Francisco. In 1854, the Pisco Punch is recorded as being served in the City by the Bay, and touted as the secret Signature Cocktail of Duncan Nichol. (He is on the far left. Photo came from here.) Then, a little nuisance called Prohibition came along in 1920. When Duncan died in 1926, his recipe for Pisco Punch went with him.
Side note: Barsol wanted to buy the historic House of Pisco bar, built just after prohibition, and refurbish it. However, they were in a bidding war with another company, which won. That spot is now going to be turned into a sushi restaurant. Boo, hisss!
Victor Morris, from the Bar Morris in Lima, Peru, is widely credited with adapting the whiskey sour to use pisco, instead, around 1915. The drink was also famously associated with the Maury Hotel, in Lima, around 1938.
Since the mid 1990’s, young chefs returning from European culinary schools have been building a progressive, modern culinary landscape in Peru. Along with that comes an interest in revitalizing the pisco trade. Entrepreneurs are expanding the vineyards, and we can expect to see a lot more pisco coming down the pipeline. Barsol is at the front of that push, and has incorporated “cocktailian” Gary Regan’s declaration touting pisco as “The other white spirit.” (playing off the pork industry slogan)
Barsol’s formula for the perfect Pisco Sour is 2-1-1:
2 ounces of pisco
1 ounce lime
1 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce egg white
Fill a mixing glass 3/4 with ice, shake like hell to make the egg froth!
* And, if you want to make a Pisco Passion, add some passion fruit puree.