Pisco: a tale of two nations

Both Peru and Chile claim Pisco to be native to their respective country.   This has been an ongoing debate over the centuries. Here is a little history to put it into perspective.

Both the city of Pisco and the spirit are legacies left behind by the Spanish Conquistadores, who arrived in Peru in 1640.  They brought with them their grapes, their wine, their brandy-making techniques and their Old World traditions. They wanted to make Spanish brandy but the conditions of the soil and the climate created a different kind of aguardiente and that’s how Pisco was born in Peru.

In Chile, Pisco appeared on the scene in the early 19th century, this happens to coincide with the Chilean occupation of Southern Peru during the War of the Pacific. Today the regions in Peru and Chile that produce Pisco lie side by side yet the grapes, the techniques and the final products are unique to each country. Although both Peruvian and Chilean brandies are known as Pisco, the truth is that they are different yet both are equally good.
Peruvian Pisco is clear to amber in colour. It is distilled in copper pot stills and never diluted, it is stored for a minimum of three months in stainless steel containers to keep its physical-organic properties and it has no additives. It is produced in small batches and there are four levels of designations that determine the quality of the liquor.
Chilean Pisco is made from a variety Muscat, Torontel or Pedro Jiménez grape varieties. It is double distilled in copper pot stills, and then aged in wood. It also has several levels of classifications.

Regardless of its origin, it is one of the most enjoyed cocktails in South America and it finally making its way into bars across Toronto.   You can enjoy it straight up, on the rocks or as a Pisco Sour.   Here is the recipe for the Peruvian Pisco Sour

Peruvian Pisco Sour

In a martini shaker add

1 oz Pisco (Chilean Pisco is much easier to find at the LCBO)
1 oz Lime Juice (squeeze 2 fresh limes per drink and add 1 tsp of sugar or 1/2 sweetener)
1 oz egg white
Lots of ice cubes
Angostura Bitters
Cinnamon

Shake vigorously and place in a martini glass.   The drink should be very frothy.  Top with a dash of cinnamon and 2 drops of Angostura Bitter.  Salut!!!
(makes one drink)

Both the Pisco Sour and the Cuban Mojito are on the menu at Bloom