The following article was written by my co-worker Chiara Shannon who has a passion for pisco. As the store's head personal sommelier, she has been writing some excellent articles for the main wine blog, but I asked her if she would write something for the Spirits Journal as well. Just in time for Pisco Sour Day tomorrow, Chiara has put together an overview of a spirit many know little about:
How much do you love the Pisco Sour?
My husband Derek and I love this historic Peruvian cocktail so much, it was the signature drink served at our wedding. Derek lived in Peru for a year in his early twenties, where he needed to perfect his Pisco Sour making technique to satisfy patrons of the chic Lima bar where he worked as a bartender. The Peruvians were not quick to accept that a gringo from New York could make proper Pisco Sour, but he eventually won them over (and even scored a spot on the local news for his talents!). So naturally, he takes this Pisco Sour business seriously. The wedding was back in 2007, when Pre-Prohibition cocktails had yet to hit mainstream cool, and it took the bar manager and staff of our five star catering operation several tries, carefully and rather gleefully presided over by Derek, to get it just right.
Pisco About Town
Pisco and Pisco Sour appreciation has come a long way in San Francisco since I first wrote about this great cocktail on UnCorked back in September of 2008 and shared Derek's recipe (below). Almost concurrent with my September 08 posting, the doors to the U.S. Flagship of Peruvian Celebrity Gaston Acurio's La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, opened its doors on San Francisco's Embarcadero. In addition to a making killer Pisco Sour, La Mar offers an extensive selection of Pisco and Pisco-based cocktails. They also host Pisco tasting seminars for enthusiasts and professionals. I attended one sponsored by BarSol pisco and it was quite enlightening.
Award-winning Pisco Sours are churned out at Pisco Latin Lounge, the Pisco Bar next to Hayes Valley's cozy Peruvian resto Destino, with Union Square's Cantina as a solid runner-up for a good Pisco fix. And these days, mixologists at the Union Square speakeasy Bourbon and Branch and SOMA's Heaven's Dog and Bar Agricole not only know what you're talking about when you order the Peruvian cocktail, but they deliver the goods proper.
Even Pisco itself- the brandy that forms the base of the cocktail - has gotten a lot better too. No more kitchy bottles of below-rate Pisco in the shape of Incan statues...new producers like Campo de Encanto and Viñas de Oro are crafting artisanal, award-winning Piscos worthy of any spirit collection.
Why not give the Pisco Sour a try today? Derek's recipe is very pretty simple and straighforward:
Derek's Pisco Sour Recipe
(from the September 08 posting of "Cocktail Craze: The Pisco Sour")
2 parts Pisco
1 part lime juice
.75 part simple syrup
one egg white
Shake with very little ice or blend. Top with cinnamon. Note: Other recipes call for a garnish of bitters instead of cinnamon, but Derek says that cinnamon is what they use in Lima.
Buy Campo de Encanto and Vinas de Oro Pisco at K&L Wine Merchants !
Prefer to have the professionals make one for you? No Problem: there is a lot of Pisco being poured this weekend in San Francisco...
Encanto Pisco Mustache Brigade Bar Crawl - Starts at La Mar at 5:30, then to 15 Romolo around 7pm, with after-party at Cantina from 9pm till closing. The party at Cantina will feature $5 Pisco Sours and shots of top shelf Pisco de Encanto offered by no other than the man himself, Encanto Co-founder Duggan McDonnell. Details
Pink Mammoth 7 Year Anniversary - Dance off all those yucca fries tonight @ Mighty for the seventh anniversary of the Pink Mammoth dance music-themed Burning Man camp. There will be an open bar of Vinas de Oro Pisco drinks, plus free food from Skool and Kitchenette. Wacky attire encouraged. $7 before 10:30 if with RSVP!