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Thursday
Feb032011

Prepping For National Pisco Sour Day

 Pisco is a Peruvian brandy that was commonplace in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. The first Saturday in February is National Pisco Sour Day in Peru, San Francisco's Pisco-loving community shares in the celebration. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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?

Chiara reaches to finish the last drop of her Pisco Sour on wedding night.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.  

Pisco was widely available in San Francisco from it's first appearance 1839 up until Prohibition. It attained world fame in 1887 when Duncan Nicol aka “Pisco John” created the Pisco Punch cocktail at the Bank Exchange Saloon. Credit for inventing the Pisco Sour is given to the English expat Elliot Stubb, who first served the cocktail at his bar in Peru in the 1870s. Photo courtesy of livinginperu.com.

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.

*

SHAKE

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.

**

SHOP

Buy Campo de Encanto and Vinas de Oro Pisco at K&L Wine Merchants !

***

TASTE

Prefer to have the professionals make one for you?  No Problem: there is a lot of Pisco being poured this weekend in San Francisco...

Sat 2/5 9pm-2am @ Cantina  Special Pisco menu and $5 Pisco Sours all night long, plus DJs spinning South American jams and hip hopDetails

Sat 2/5 @ La Mar Cebicheria Peruana   $5 Pisco Sours all day  Details

Sat 2/5 5 pm-1 am, and Sunday, 2/6, 3-9 pm @ Pisco Latin Lounge $5 Pisco Sours all day on Saturday and Sunday, plus $3 beers for those not yet convinced of Pisco's magic.  Details

 

**** 

PARTY! 

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!

 

Thursday
Feb032011

BB&R is Blowing Up!!!

As you can see the K&L Spirits Blog is not only about Whisky!  Pisco Sour day is celebrated below, as well as the new Rum from Berry Bros.  Today, I'd like to talk about another great product from the venerable wine & spirits retailer in London.

BB&R's No. 3 London DryNo. 3 London Dry Gin 750ml - $39.99

Specially bottled for Berry Bros & Rudd in London, this gin was created to exemplify the classic London Dry style. Unabashedly juniper driven, the riveting No. 3 gets its name from the historic home of Berry Bros at No.3 St James Street in London, where they've been operating continuously since 1698. The No. 3 pushes tradition to the extreme using a simple 3 fruit and 3 spice recipe. The nose is all citrus and piney juniper. On the palate the juniper is balanced perfectly with spicy coriander and verdant cardamom. The finish brings the earth telltale prickle of angelica root and continues with surprising length. An exceptional product, distilled for one of the most important British wine & spirits businesses in history, by the Brits traditional rivals, the Dutch? I'm sure they weren't expecting that in 1698, go figure. An excellent collaboration.

The Legendary King's GingerKing's Ginger Liqueur 750ml - $39.99

From a century old recipe created in 1903 by Berry Bros & Rudd in London specifically for King Edward VII, King's Ginger Liqueur is a top class ginger liqueur unlike any other.  Voluptuous yet vibrant, His Majesty used it to "stimulate and revivify" himself.  Appreciated by the Sporting Class ever since, we've waited along time for its arrival.  The sublime liqueur's base is Glenrothes Single Malt Whisky.  Carefully macerated ginger root and lemon peel are slowly steep in this heady and expensive base.  It has various uses namely as a warming agent on a cold night, after dinner as a digestif, as an invigorating component to a cocktail, with tonic or as a spritzer.   The color is shimmering gold and the body is perfectly rich without being sappy.  Delicate and subtle for all the intensity of flavor, King's Ginger is a must have for any serious tippler.

 

Thursday
Feb032011

Saturday Is Pisco Sour Day!

Walter Moore, co-chair of the fabulous SF-based Campo de Encanto Pisco brand, stopped by the store today to remind me that this coming Saturday is National Pisco Sour day.  His partner in crime, the smooth-talking Duggan McDonnell is down in Lima as I type this, getting behind the stick for a week long Peruvian party with the locals.  These guys must be pretty excited because their stuff has been chosen as the official pisco for the party, an honor that seems almost impossible to be true, considering it's run by foreigners and has almost zero recognition outside the Bay Area.  That should tell you something about the quality of Encanto (which I whole-heartedly vouch for). 

Walter will be running a pub crawl here in SF to celebrate this Saturday, culminating at Cantina around 9 PM where they'll be shelling out $5 Pisco Sours while a DJ pumps out the jams.  If you're feeling like more of a home body, Duggan left this recipe for us domestic mixologists:

All's Fair In War & Pisco (a most passionate cocktail)

In a tall glass pour:

2 fingers Encanto

1 part fresh citrus

2 parts ginger ale

add ice, stir, and float a small amount of red wine on top

As you can see in the above photo, our pisco selection has doubled to four outstanding selections, the Encanto on the left and the three new Viñas de Oro piscos, all from different varietals, and all absolutely stellar in their quality.  There are so many more interesting drinks that include pisco for us to experiment with, including the sour, that can be tweaked for additional flavor.  There is really little need for vodka in this day and age with the emergence of pisco.  It functions in many of the same ways, but with more depth, texture, and flavor.  Heck, Duggan's new recipe is pretty much a Moscow Mule that's been altered just a bit.  I know what I'm drinking tonight.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Feb032011

Operation Success!

A big thank you to everyone who made it out to Martin's West last night for the Snow Phoenix tasting.  I was so happy that more than twenty people came and had a taste!  The bottle was gone in less than 45 minutes, so we're buying two bottles for next week.  This coming Tuesday will feature the brand new Glenmorangie Finealta, an elegant, lightly-peated offering from one of my favorite distilleries.  In an attempt to promote the tastings effectively, we've decided to plan this out a few weeks at a time, so after the Finealta we're going to pour the Compass Box Double Single, which I know so many of you have been dying to taste.  The following Tuesday should showcase the Connemara 12 Peated Irish from Cooley distillery, a whiskey I got to revisit recently with John Cashman.  All of these whiskies are selections that peak the curiosity, but keep people teetering back and forth in their decision to actually purchase a bottle.  Allow me to lift the curtain of uncertainty and allow you all to know once and for all if these are must-haves, or simply delicious could-have-beens. 

One thing I've learned that will be remedied next time - we'll all meet in the back and sit in closer proximity so it's more like a group, rather than spread out all over the place!  Hey, it's still a work in progress.

-David Driscoll

Tuesday
Feb012011

Podcast #5 - Ardbeg/Glenmorangie's David Blackmore

I managed to track down the ever-traveling David Blackmore while on a short layover at Glenmorangie HQ to discuss the dealings of his brands.  David is brand ambassador for both Ardbeg and Glenmorangie and serves as the right-hand man to Bill Lumsden, the head whisky creator.  We discussed some upcoming releases, the role of whisky bloggers, and the rumors surrounding the new Ardbeg Alligator.  Overall, a fantastic new discussion to add with the others.

The podcast can be downloaded here (remember to right click for PC users and hold option for Mac users).

If you want to revisit some of the older episodes, then click here for the archive.

You can also listen here via our embedded flash player: