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Entertaining
Get to Know Pisco Better in These 11 Great Cocktails

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Pisco is French brandy’s lesser known, under-appreciated South American cousin. Whereas aged grape spirits bring nuance and maturity to a cocktail, the unaged pisco brings the funk (and the ensuing party). Many bottlings include floral notes like jasmine and rose, tropical fruits like pineapple and ripe melon, baking spices and black pepper, nutty almond, and grassier flavors like pine. Meanwhile the spirit’s lack of aging, which can be a defining factor in other brandy-based beverages, lets pisco play well with other ingredients in diverse cocktails. While many piscos match beautifully with lime and egg white in a simple Pisco Sour, the intriguing tastes of the spirit work with a huge array of flavors and textures, from vegetal to bitter to creamy. Get to know your new favorite booze with these 11 delicious pisco drinks.

MATTHEW KELLY / SUPERCALL

Odds are if you come across pisco in the U.S., it’ll be starring in this South American Sour. The citrusy fluff of the cocktail bursts on the palate like a bite of cotton candy and finishes dry, making it a light delight. Feel free to live your best life by using real Peruvian limón, but if there isn’t any readily available, key lime will do just fine as a substitute.

The Essentials

pisco
bitters
MATTHEW KELLY / SUPERCALL

Like the Sour, the classic cocktail formula for the Buck works equally well adapted with pisco. It’s named for a fish head soup traditionally used as a hangover cure in Peru, and while it isn’t fishy, it will clear your drowsy mind the morning after a rough night. Ginger beer invigorates pisco’s vegetal character, creating a glass of grassy spice that could wake the dead.

The Essentials

pisco
fresh lime juice
Ginger beer
PATRICK SPEARS / SUPERCALL

Before Prohibition, pisco was quickly climbing the charts in American metropolitan areas like San Francisco, charming drinkers with its unaged vitality. While the dry period put a major damper on that fervor—only to be truly revived of late—the pre-Prohibition hordes could only be satisfied with this big batch pisco drink, which combines lovable pisco with equally approachable pineapple syrup.

The Essentials

Pisco
lemon juice
pineapple gomme syrup
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

If you thought raw pisco was vegetal on its own, wait until you get a sip of this epic vegetable cocktail. Spring peas also have a reputation for sweet, savory, heavenly flavor, so infusing them into pisco is a green dream team. Don’t worry; the resulting cocktail isn’t overly herbal like some regrettable green juice, but drinking one as an aperitif surely qualifies as the best salad course ever.

The Essentials

Ginger Syrup
Pisco
Spring Peas
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

Avocado sticks out like a sore thumb among dessert drink ingredients like chocolate, strawberry and honey, but pisco acts as a bridge between the worlds of sweet and savory. An avocado infusion mellows the grape spirit, giving it a silkier, creamier texture, which settles in nicely with crème de cacao and crème de fraise (strawberry liqueur). The drink is a perfectly balanced enigma.

The Essentials

Avocado Pisco
crème de cacao
crème de fraise
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

It takes a soft hand to perfect matcha, as brewing too aggressively will quickly turn the tea into a muddy, bitter mess. But brewing it precisely yields a delicate whisper of flavor that blossoms on your palate. A classic Pisco Sour is the perfect vehicle for that taste, lifting that flowering taste on a gentle breeze of booze.

The Essentials

pisco
matcha tea syrup
bitters
Mark Yocca/SUPERCALL

Great as your grandma’s rendition might be, Eggnog is just way better in Chile, where it’s made with lively local moonshine. Swapping in more available pisco keeps the spirit of the original while cutting the thick holiday drink with dry brightness. It’s especially good when combined with traditional, budget staples like instant coffee and canned evaporated milk, along with the usual holiday spices.

The Essentials

whole milk (or almond milk)
coffee
Chilean Pisco
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

Lesser known spirits like pisco and mastiha can give even blue curaçao some esoteric cred, as can be tasted in this cocktail that pairs the unlikely trio with navy strength rum, coconut water and lime. The bright blue concoction might remind you of syrupy sippers past, but we guarantee that it tastes all natural, with pine-forward mastiha combining wonderfully with the grassier side of pisco.

The Essentials

Pisco
Jamaican Rum
Blue Curaçao
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

Another day, another Pisco Sour, right? Wrong! Adding a dash of citrusy Riesling emboldens the drink with complex sweetness, which creator Eric Books of Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts, likens to lemon meringue pie. This recipe calls for grapefruit lime cordial, but seasonal citrus will give the drink new life over and over as the year goes by, constantly proving the Pisco Sour is an old dog that can learn new tricks.

The Essentials

Pisco
Grapefruit Lime Cordial
Riesling
MATTHEW KELLY/SUPERCALL

Swapping the orange liqueur in a Sidecar for blue curaçao immediately gives the classic drink some visual pizzazz, but doesn’t do much to alter the taste inside. Using pisco instead of the traditional Cognac, though, immediately boosts the cocktail’s flavor to match is vibrant skin. The upgrade is as distinctive as a swirl of Angostura bitters on the drink’s velvety blue blanket.

The Essentials

pisco
Blue Curaçao
egg white
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
Mulled red wine gets all the attention, but white wine works equally well in this warming wintertime drink, especially when you incorporate spritely pisco into the mix. This South American-tinged take on a warm punch relies on oaky Chardonnay and fig bitters for its rich notes of dark fruit, butter, caramel and even tropical coconut, which build around the funky fruity notes of the pisco. The drink will warm you both literally and figuratively with a dose of sunshine from the southern hemisphere when the north is frozen over.

The Essentials

pisco
White Wine
vanilla syrup

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