If you think the pisco sour is the most Peruvian cocktail, it may surprise you to hear that we think the pisco & tonic should be the flagship cocktail of Peru. Quinine, the ingredient that gives tonic water its bitter taste, comes from the bark of Peru’s national tree, the cinchona.
There are 23 species of cinchona plants, six of which only grow in the tropical areas of the Peruvian Andes. The Cinchona officinalis (quina in Spanish) is among those 6 species. Quinine from this tree is not only used to make tonic water, but it also has been historically used to treat malaria.
You can make your own tonic water by soaking cinchona bark in carbonated water. However, it’s difficult to find. Sadly, cinchona trees are in danger of extinction.
We believe the pisco tonic should be revered as the quintessential Peruvian cocktail. Tonic, made from bark from Peru’s national tree + pisco + ice = the most Peruvian experience in a glass!
Pisco y Tonic
1.5 oz PiscoLogía Acholado
Top with Fever Tree Tonic
Serve over ice. Garnish with kalamata olives & lime peel
Pisco replaces rum in this Piña Colada-style concoction, showcasing the versatility of Peruvian pisco and highlighting its longstanding relationship with the pineapple.
The marriage of Peruvian pisco and pineapple happened thanks to Duncan Nicol, but the pineapple had gained fame in the USA long before the Pisco Punch. In the 1700’s, the tropical fruit began to symbolize opulence in the colonies- one pineapple cost the equivalent of $8,000 in today’s dollars, due to its “perishability, novelty, exoticism, and scarcity” (Raga).
When Nicol opened the Bank Exchange, the fruit was still a symbol of great wealth, but it had become less expensive due to the increased movement of goods during the Gold Rush. Ships used to stock up on prospecting supplies in Peru en route to San Francisco, among the goods were pisco and pineapples. The fruit soon became more accessible, allowing Nicol to mix pineapple syrup and pisco to woo San Francisco’s wealthiest drinkers.
Luckily pineapple is no longer for the elite, so we can use it in our favorite cocktails without breaking the bank. For this Matcha Colada, a Peruvian piña colada, we recommend PiscoLogía Acholado, our special blend of Quebranta and Italia piscos. The pineapple and coconut will pair beautifully with the tropical flavors and aromas of the Italia.
For a special treat, add matcha syrup and matcha dust, a finely ground powder of green tea leaves!
2 oz. Pisco Acholado
1 oz. Coconut cream
.75 oz. Pineapple juice
.75 oz. Matcha syrup
Shake and pour over pebble ice. Garnish with mint bundle and matcha dust
This is the 6th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
It does matter what variety of pisco you put in your cocktail. Every pisco type displays unique flavors and aromas that should pair with what you’re mixing.
Once again, we will turn to Kami to bust this myth about Peruvian pisco. She confirmed that each variety of pisco is unique, stating: “There are 8 grape varieties that can be used to make pisco, not to mention an infinite amount of Acholados, which are blends, that can take on any number of characteristics when combined. Blends aside, each of the 8 varieties offer us different flavor profiles”.
Kami continued to give us specifics about how different types of grapes are expressed in cocktails. “Uvina, for an example, is not a pisco I want to put into a pisco sour. It is one of the rare non-aromatics. It has vegetable, olive-like flavors – it’s really interesting. A cocktail made with Quebranta or Negra Criolla, two of the non-aromatics, are going to drastically change the profile of a cocktail originally crafted with the very-aromatic Italia. Aside from producers and brands of pisco, it is important to craft a drink around the explosive flavors of each grape variety. It’d be like pairing a sweet rose wine with a steak – no gracias”.
This confirms what we have said before- the type of pisco you put into your cocktail should be carefully chosen to match the ingredients. In doing so, you will create a harmony of flavors and appreciate the full potential of the clear Peruvian brandy.
This is the 4th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
We think Acholado is the best pisco for a pisco sour.
Contrary to the belief in Peru that pisco sours should be made with Quebranta pisco, we prefer a sour made with pisco Acholado. It’s even better when the Acholado is blended with an aromatic grape like Italia. The floral, fruity notes of the aromatic variety pair well with the citrus in the cocktail.
In a recent blog post we discussed the benefits of highlighting the characteristics of each pisco type when mixing cocktails. To do this, Kami envisions the 8 pisco varieties on a spectrum, drawing a parallel between their flavors and their sense of warmth. To her, the more aromatic the pisco, the cooler it is: “I love an Acholado or one of the aromatics for a pisco sour. I tend to think of Quebranta as warm, while Italia and Torontel are cool. I like my cool/floral/bright piscos with citrus and the “warm” Quebranta on its own or mixed into a Capitán or another booze-forward classic like a Negroni”.
With this advice from Kami, we encourage you to experiment by making pisco sours with different types of pisco. We are confident that you will agree- the floral, fruity notes of an Acholado work best with the sweetness and acidity of Peru’s most iconic cocktail.
Hoy presentamos otro coctel clásico peruano, el Capitán. También conocido como el “Manhattan Peruano”, esta mezcla de vermut y pisco representa la fusión de las culturas italianas y peruanas en Perú.
Según John Santa Cruz en ¡Que Pase El Capitán!, el vermut italiano se importó por primera vez al Perú en el año 1859. Sin embargo, no llegó a su cima de popularidad hasta después de la Primera Guerra Mundial, cuando los inmigrantes italianos en Perú empezaron a tomar el vino fortificado con pisco peruano. El trago económico fue nombrado por su precio, 20 Centavos.
Cuando el coctel 20 Centavos se puso popular fuera de los círculos de inmigrantes italianos, su nombre cambió a “Capitán”. En las alturas de los Andes en la ciudad de Puno, los capitanes militares paraban en bares durante sus patrullas en caballo cada noche y pedían el coctel 20 Centavos. Los bármanes les pasaban los tragos a sus clientes uniformados, diciendo: “Para usted, mi Capitán”. El nombre “Capitán” pronto empezó a usarse, reemplazando el nombre 20 Centavos. Desde entonces, ha sido parte de la cultura coctelera en Perú´.
Nuestra socia Kami creó su versión del Capitán con PiscoLogía Pisco Acholado, vermut seco y vermut dulce:
2 onzas PiscoLogía Acholado
1/2 onza vermut seco
1/2 onza vermut dulce
Aceituna negra envuelta en nori
Mezclar todo. Servir con la guarnición de aceituna con nori.
Artisanal production. Estate grown in Azpitia. Terroir driven.
Our master distiller, Nati crafts our Acholado to be both mixable in cocktails as well as enjoyed neat. It is balanced, with flavors of matured dried currant and banana and aromas of pecan and orange blossom. Akin to wine, try letting your pisco breathe before enjoying!
GRAPES USED: 95% Quebranta, 5% Italia
PROCESSING: Grapes are harvested from estate vineyards, first pressed traditionally by foot, then with an automated press without the seeds.
FERMENTATION: The freshly pressed grape juice drops directly into a cement well where the wild fermentation begins. Contact with the grape skins (approximately 24 hours) and vintage yeast strains jump-start fermentation. Once active, fermentation completes its cycle in neutral vats.
STILL TYPE: Copper Pot Still
STILL SIZE: 300 Liters; direct flame heated
DISTILLER: Nati Gordillo
DISTILLATION: Single (Peruvian Pisco must be distilled to proof)
In Peru, the eight grapes used in pisco production are separated into 2 categories: aromatic and non-aromatic. While the latter categorization might imply that some piscos lack aromas, we would like to clarify that all varieties of Peruvian pisco are highly aromatic. This is due to the production methods required by the Denomination of Origin in Peru. First, Peruvian pisco is distilled one time, which helps bring out the unique aromatic profile of each grape variety. Then it is aged in neutral casks, which enhances the aromas while preserving the original identity of the clear spirit.
In this post, we will list the flavors and aromas of each grape variety used in the production of Peruvian pisco: Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Uvina & Mollar (non-aromatic) and Italia, Torontel, Moscatel, and Albilla (aromatic).
Note: These are general tasting notes, as every pisco is different, depending on the region, the terroir of the vineyards and the methods of the distiller.
Origin: The Quebranta grape is a cross between Negra Criolla and Mollar grapes. It is the most common grape used in pisco production in Peru.
Pisco flavors: Lime, mandarin, flowers, orange blossom & tropical fruit
Origin: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. AKA Torrontés.
Pisco aromas: Flowers such as geranium, jasmine and magnolia, citrus, orange blossom & tropical fruit
Pisco flavors: Citrus, honey, tropical fruit & toffee
Origin: There is dispute about the origins of Peruvian Moscatel grapes. One theory is that it comes from the Muscat Rose à Petits Grains grape (Jiménez). This muscat grape is not to be confused with Italia, even though they are from the same family.
El pisco peruano es un aguardiente de uvas que se destila una vez y reposa un mínimo de 3 meses.
La uva quebranta es una de las variedades de uvas pisqueras que se usa para hacer pisco, igual que el cabernet sauvignon y chardonnay son tipos de uva para vino. En Perú, hay ocho variedades de uvas pisqueras: quebranta, negra criolla, mollar y uvina (no-aromáticas) e italia, torontel, moscatel y albilla (aromáticas).
El pisco acholado se hace mezclando un mínimo de dos de las distintas variedades de pisco o dos variedades de uvas antes mencionadas. Nuestra destiladora, Nati hace una mixtura perfecta de uvas quebranta e italia para crear un acholado que se puede usar en cócteles o para tomar solo. Aquí hay más información sobre los dos:
Aromas: Pecanas y azahar
Sabores: Grosella madura y seca, plátano
Maridaje recomendado: Chocolate semi-dulce
2 onzas PiscoLogía Acholado
1 onza jarabe de piña
1 onza limón
.5 onza licor Benedictine
Clara de huevo
Nuez moscada (guarnición)
Sirve en las rocas
Aromas: Herbáceo, plátano dulce caramelizado
Sabores: Almendras tostadas, plátano, pecanas y manzanas verdes ácidas
This is part 1 of a series of interviews with Fernando Gonzales-Lattini, a sommelier specialized in pisco, vigneron and producer of premium wine in the Peruvian Andes.
How do you taste pisco and train
“To properly taste a pisco, you need a pisco snifter, like the photo shown above. In a tasting, a sommelier always evaluates 3 aspects: appearance, aroma and flavor. First, take a look at how the pisco looks. A good pisco must be clear and dense. Swirl the pisco around in the snifter to test its viscosity. A viscid pisco will form thick legs on the side of the glass. This is an indication that the pisco is full-bodied and has a good ratio of alcohol/glycerol. Transparency is also very important. Hold the glass up to the light to observe its color. Peruvian pisco is clear when it runs off the still, nothing is added to it, and it isn’t aged in barrels. For those reasons, it should be as clear as water in the bottle.
To detect aromas, I always recommend that people waft toward their noses instead of smelling directly from the snifter. If you inhale too closely, you can overwhelm your sense of smell, making it impossible to distinguish aromas. Piscos made from different grapes will have different descriptors. For example, a quebranta will commonly smell like banana, mango, pecans and raisins. An aromatic pisco like Italia will smell like fruit and flowers such as jasmine. Once you have observed the aromas and appearance, it’s time to taste.
When you taste a pisco, it should feel smooth in your mouth and throat. At no time should you feel a burning or harsh sensation. Identify in your mouth what flavors it has. You should be able to taste the same aromas that you smelled. For example, if you smelled pecans, you should taste pecans. You might be able to discover other flavors too, so pay close attention to how the flavors might change at different stages in the tasting process.
This is the general idea of how to conduct a pisco tasting. Remember that it takes practice to detect the different flavors and aromas of pisco. The more you do it, the more trained your nose and palate will become.”
In Peru, it is difficult not to stumble upon something associated with José de San Martín. From streets to provinces to statues to schools, this man’s legacy is ubiquitous. Born in Argentina, José de San Martín was a military leader who fought to liberate Argentina, Chile and Peru. However, he was notable not only for his efforts to gain independence in South America. San Martín also fought to abolish slavery, advocated for indigenous people and enacted freedom of speech in Peru.
José de San Martín first liberated Argentina and Chile from royalist rule. He then traveled to Peru to do the same. His efforts were successful; Peru’s independence was declared on July 28th, 1821. To this day, Peruvians celebrate Independence Day with copious amounts of pisco. Now they can add PiscoLogía’s San Martín cocktail to their repertoire.
Peru’s national hero died in France at the age of 72, shortly after hearing the news of Argentina’s victory against the Anglo-French blockade. To note this historical fact, Kami added a French twist to this cocktail with Chartreuse and Dubbonet.
Created by the master Kami Kenna, we present the San Martín cocktail to you: