First made in the 16th century by invading Spanish conquistadors in Lima Peru, Pisco, a distilled wine similar to brandy, is now celebrated the world over. Introduced in the States during the San Francisco gold rush, the Pisco Punch cocktail, a mix of pineapple juice, lime, sugar, and distilled water achieved epic popularity. By the early 1900’s, many Pisco Houses opened up across San Francisco until prohibition snuffed them out. Only recently has Pisco, particularly that produced by Gran Sierpe, made inroads back into U.S. liquor cabinets and bars.
In order for Pisco to be authentic, it must meet stringent production guidelines. Grape vines are selected ahead of time in August and then carefully tended until the February harvest. Within moments after the grapes are taken off the vine, they are crushed and the juice is collected and distilled in copper “alambique” stills. The grape juice is then stored in stainless steel tanks and fermented anywhere from 12 to 20 days achieving just the right combination of sugar and alcohol. Now wine, it is distilled using the antique alembic process which allows some impurities to remain enhancing the final aroma and bouquet that makes Pisco so unique. The finished product is a translucent 42% alcohol (84 proof) stored for 3-9 months in purified drums to preserve flavor.
The best part is that Gran Sierpe runs some festive promotions like the Pisco Bus, a 50-person air conditioned school bus touring Miami hot spots where you get to jump off and imbibe complementary custom-made Pisco cocktails. Cocktails are subject to change per mixologists’ whims, but are likely to include the Snake Eyes with fresh passion fruit, mango, lime juice, and a dash of jalapeño; Pisco Punch, infused for three days with honeydew, watermelon, grapes, pineapple, and cantaloupe; and the classic Pisco Sour, which meticulously blends the base liquor with fresh lemon or lime, frothed egg whites, and simple syrup. Stay tuned for their latest events.
photo courtesy of Gran Sierpe Pisco