Head Bartender of the Embassy Marcelo Lazaro whipped up glasses of the classic recipe, a 3:1:1 ratio of Pisco, lime juice and sugar, plus egg white and Angostura bitters. Eight DC area bar stars then demonstrated their spirited takes on the tipple. Juan Jimenez of Mio mixed up a version with tart and tangy passion fruit; Jon Arroyo of Founding Farmers / Farmers and Fishers turned up the heat with jalapeno, cracked pepper and strawberries; while Jesse Ryan from Trummers on Main gave it a tropical spin with fresh pineapple and lime, and Madagascar Vanilla Paste.
Pisco is a white grape spirit that offers the versatility of vodka, but with more flavor and complexity. Any number of eight grapes can be used to produce it—and according to Asher, depending on which go into the mix, the resulting spirit can be earthy and herbal tasting (like regular Macchu Pisco), or floral and aromatic (like special blend La Diablada). Both bottles are available in DC, MD and VA for $20.00 and $40.00 a bottle, respectively.
Lots of beverage analysts, writers and bloggers have touted 2010 as “the Year of Pisco,” which Asher celebrates — and the more products on the market, the merrier. “This wide-diversity within the Pisco category allow one to craft truly exciting cocktails since Pisco bottles what we love most about wines and allows us to bring it into the world of mixology.”
Asher’s favorite Pisco drink in town is her namesake one. “Melanie’s Pisco Pipe Dream” mixes Macchu Pisco, coconut water and lemon simple syrup, and is available at PX in Alexandria. “It speaks to my vision since the young age of twelve of bringing Macchu Pisco to the world!” she exclaims.
To conjure up your own Pisco visions, mix up Arroyo’s kicked up Pisco cocktail:
Pisco de Agricultura
Courtesy of Jon Arroyo, Founding Farmers / Farmers and Fishers
2 oz. Macchu Pisco
¾ oz. Grand Marnier
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
2-3 strawberry pieces
3-4 small jalapeño pieces
2 dashes orange bitters
Pinch of cracked pepper
Muddle strawberry and jalapeño in the bottle of a cocktail shaker. Add Pisco, Grand Marnier, lime juice and orange bitters. Shake vigorously with ice, and then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly cracked pepper.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and sprits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or at www.twitter.com/kmagyarics.