Pisco, long a centerpiece on cocktail menus across both Chile and Perú, is finally getting some well-deserved attention abroad. The white grape brandy can now be found on the shelves and menus of top New York City bars, and it is making a stir.
“It’s the oldest spirit in the Americas, and the time has come now where it’s getting a lot of attention,” Scott Goldman, whose company Cadre Noir Imports has started importing Control C, a Chilean pisco, recently told the New York Daily News.
The grapes used to make pisco have been harvested since the 16th century, flourishing in northern Chile’s Elqui Valley and along Peru’s southern coast.
Bartenders in the Big Apple are serving up their own versions of the classic pisco sour as well as creating new drinks with the old spirit. The original pisco sour is made with pisco, lime or lemon juice and egg white (the Peruvian take on the cocktail includes bitters).
At the Evelyn Drinkery, owner Christian Sanders has put his own spin on the prized cocktail, infusing pisco with white pepper and mixing it with a Japanese citrus fruit, yuzu, in place of the usual lime or lemon juice.
“I like the idea of using small accents to taking something simple, like a daiquiri or a pisco sour and just change it a little bit,” Sanders told New York Daily News. “When you add pepper, it totally changes the cocktail.”
In New York’s financial district, one bar is serving up an oft-overlooked pisco classic, the pisco punch. At The Dead Rabbit, bartender Pamela Wiznitzer pours pisco infused with pineapple, tea syrup, lemon juice, chamomile tea, rose water and chamomile tincture, pulling from a classic San Francisco recipe from the 1850’s gold rush when pisco was a spirit of choice in the area.
Some of the bars’ pisco cocktail creations are even more inventive. Yerba Buena Perry, a Latin American and Spanish cuisine restaurant in the West Village, offers what it lists as the Toronja y Rosas. Made with pisco, blood orange juice, Pamplemousse Rose, which is a grapefruit liqueur, and rose syrup, the drink comes over ice in a cocktail glass rimmed with homemade hibiscus salt for extra flare.
There are endless options for how to enjoy pisco, and no doubt the list of pisco cocktails is only going to continue to grow as the brandy gains popularity around the world.