“Distilled from grapes, Pisco is a clear spirit, very pure, aromatic or non-aromatic and can be enjoyed neat or in many different cocktails due to its versatility,” explained Conrado Falco, Director of the Trade Commission of Peru in NY.
In Manhattan, there are countless Pisco cocktail options, such as a Pisco Tonic at Quality Meats, Done & Dusted at Dead Rabbit, one with blueberries at Pera Mediterranean Brasserie, Guascas Fizz at Her Name was Carmen and an Alpaca Punch, which is one of the signature cocktails at The Lambs Club, to name only a few.
But the classic Pisco cocktail is the Pisco Sour: a happy drink with lime juice, simple syrup, egg white and a splash of bitters, which Peruvians imbibe to celebrate just about any occasion, including any day of the week. This cocktail even has its own national holiday, established by law in Peru, falling on the first Saturday of February each year.
So if you want to join in the fun or have your own reason to say Salud!, there are many Peruvian as well as American bars and restaurants throughout NYC which serve this unique drink. Which one is closest to you? Well, choices include Eleven Madison Park, Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel, David Burke Tavern, Casa Enrique, The Aviary, NoMad, The Living Room at the Park Hyatt, Dear Irving, Bathtub Gin… the list goes on.
Cristina Laverde, Director of Brand Development at Pisco 100, can attest to this. She said that “Pisco 100 is present at American, Italian, Mexican restaurants, as well as others, from the most elegant to the up and coming with many in between. Pisco is really a way of life.”
Pisco is also tailor-made for Millennials since it’s an extra pure spirit, clear, less aggressive than other alcohols and it’s made without additives, not even added water! The same can’t be said for gin and vodka.
The Peruvian Boom in NYC!
You may have heard of the fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, which has a long history in Peru and has been spreading around the world. In Manhattan, Nobu was the pioneer of this style, opening in TriBeCa 24 years ago, and now has 2 spots locally, one on 57thStreet and the other downtown. Over the past few years, following suit are Sen Sakana and Llama San (the 3rdrestaurant from Erik Ramirez’s Llama group). This particular fusion is so extraordinary, that Maido, a renowned restaurant in Lima, consistently holds a place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, so far for the past 4 years in a row and resides at number 7 this year.
In addition to all having incredible food, they all have Pisco! Nobu Misuhisa, whose first trip to Peru was forty years ago, returned to Lima this past summer. He said, “I am a tequila lover! So, to me Pisco has a similar potential. I did try the Pisco drinks while I was in Peru and they were very tasty.” Dale DeGroff, also known as King Cocktail, echoes Chef Nobu’s appreciation for Pisco, calling it a “heritage spirit” and said, “Pisco is so cocktail friendly it can play a significant role in the new culinary style drinks that are emerging more and more every day.”
There are also numerous Peruvian and Latin Restaurants in the Tri State Area that offer Pisco and the Pisco Sour, with many participating in the upcoming PiscoSour Week promotion starting on February 2nd, the official Pisco Sour Day. Pio Pio, a chain of restaurants serving classic Peruvian rotisserie chicken and other quintessential dishes, has perhaps the largest collection of Pisco bottles in its flagship venue on 10thAvenue and at their Amaru Pisco Bar in Queens. In Long Island City, Jora shines bright and when in Brooklyn, Llama Inn and Surfish Bistro are a must-taste, as are the other Peruvian restaurants in that borough: Pollo de Oro, Chimu, Coco Roco and La Chacra. Back in Manhattan are Baby Brasa and Panca and the popular Latin venues, Toloache and Her Name Was Carmen. While in Hoboken, NJ, there’s Cucharamama from Maricel Presilla, a perfect place to raise a fork!
Quite a lot of American and international bars and restaurants in NYC are also participating in the PiscoSour Week festivities, celebrating until February 7th, too.
8 Grapes, 1 Spirit
Pisco production in Peru started at the end of the 16thcentury, with grapes originally being brought over by the Spanish. Pisco grapes are classified into 4 aromatic and 4 non-aromatic varietals. The aromatic grapes are Italia, Moscatel, Albilla and Torontel and the non- aromatic grapes are Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Criolla and Uvina. Pisco grapes are grown in the coastal valleys of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna and it is only the grapes grown in these areas that can be called Pisco, Denomination of Origin.
From these grapes there are then 3 styles of Pisco: Pisco Puro, this distillation is made from one kind of grape, either aromatic or non-aromatic. Pisco Acholado is made from the blending of at least two of the eight grape varieties. Pisco Mosto Verde is a special process in which the fermentation is interrupted resulting in a rich texture that is smooth on the palate.
Jared Sasso, a Director at Caravedo Pisco, said, “Pisco is a wonderful spirit from Peru that … will change the way you look at distilled spirits.” He added that Pisco is the purest liquor in the world since “we must follow very specific rules to ensure you are putting the most unadulterated expression of any spirit in your body. We have 5 pillars of Pisco that we follow, and we cannot stray from these very tight laws. These include:
- Has to be made in Peru in one of five valleys/regions… using only eight grapes
- Single-distilled to proof
- Small-batch in copper pot stills–no column stills…
- No additives: No Water, No Artificial Yeast, No Sugar, No Additives of Any Kind –Only Wine (note: other spirits, from whisky to rum and vodka to gin add water after distillation)
- Must Rest in Non-Reactive Vessel: Stainless steel, clay, glass…
Caravedo Pisco is produced in the oldest distillery in the Americas, Hacienda La Caravedo, established in 1684. You are drinking a piece of history every time you drink Pisco!”
Elmer Contreras of Frederick Wildman & Sons, a leading importer of the finest wines and spirits, said, “in the last 20 years new distillers have elevated the crafting of this spirit. I am a huge fan of the connection of terroir and man, and Peruvian Pisco has reached that level.” One of the Pisco brands they carry is Pisco 1615.
PISCO: Enjoyed Across the USA and in your Neighborhood
Lizzie Asher, together with her sister Melanie, founded Macchu Pisco in 2006. Lizzie said when they launched their company, “the goal was to seduce the American audience with one of Peru’s treasures.” Fast forward to today, she continued “Pisco in the US market keeps on expanding” with NY, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco being among the ones with high demand for the spirit along with great interest coming from distributors in Minnesota, Kansas, Wyoming, Arkansas, and other states.Go ahead, celebrate World Pisco Sour Day on February 2ndand be a part of history by drinking Pisco, the national pride of Peru, anytime, anywhere!
…including at Home!
Some of the other best known Peruvian Pisco brands available in and around NYC are Barsol, Ocucaje, Tacama, Queriolo and Intipalka, Tabernero, Rotondo and they can be found in the spirit, brandy or eau de vie categories at liquor stores, including:
Published by: Hector Rojas