Cocktail Chatter

Cocktail Chatter: ¡Oh, Pisco!

“Oh, Pancho!” “Oh, Pisco!” I knew I was being annoying, but that only spurred me on.

“Oh, Pancho!” “Oh, Pisco!” My Mexican accent was becoming broader and more offensive with every iteration.

“Oh, Pancho!” Oh, P…”

“Stop it. Now. If you say that irritating thing one more time I swear I’m going to pick you up and defenestrate you.” Despite his excellent word choice, this was a surprising threat of violence coming from Dan, who usually assumes the Longsuffering Husband perspective and simply sighs with resignation.

“It’s classic television history,” I sniffed, taking the pedantic perspective and feeling suddenly huffy and put-out. “Didn’t you ever watch The Cisco Kid?”

The Cisco Kid?!” he said with a tone of stupefaction. “When was that even on? 1940? Even you, Methuselah, are too young for The Cisco Kid.”

“No need to turn personal,” I chided. “If it weren’t for me and my nerdy friends, the entire history of television would evaporate just like this.” I made a dramatic poofing sound and looked outraged.

“OK, forget it. I know when I’m licked.”

“Grrrr, tiger!” I said and made an obscene licking gesture with my tongue.

“What is wrong with you?” He turned and quickly headed to his computer. Having had my audience walk out on me, I had no choice but to return to the kitchen and resume my exploration into the liquor called Pisco.

Pisco is a type of brandy that is fermented only in Chile and Peru. These two nations have been feuding with each other for literally centuries over which one may claim to be the original birthplace of the brandy. Pisco Punch, which is made of course from Pisco, comes to us however from San Francisco, where it had the reputation of being the most fashionable of that city’s cocktails in the late 1800s. You may also have heard of the cocktail called the Pisco Sour. It was invented in Lima, Peru, and there appears to be no international kerfuffle over that fact.

I began my own Pisco explorations by drinking it by itself, neat. Pisco Portón, the brand I chose, is fine enough to drink solo; I can’t vouch for any rotgut Piscos one might find at the local liquor store in the States or some roadhouse in Peru.

It’s got a kick to it, this Pisco stuff! Reminiscent of grappa, it’s got a healthy burn when it hits the mouth, but it immediately blossoms into a faint fruit taste &emdash; in this case, the Muscat grapes, which serve as the liquor’s source. It goes down easy, if you like it a bit rough. I mean to say, Pisco is a drinking person’s drink when consumed by itself. It’s the kind of thing of which people remark, “That’ll put hair on your chest.” I’ve been counting new ones on mine all week.

Pisco Neat

Just pour a healthy amount of room-temperature Pisco into a liqueur glass or brandy snifter. I recommend Pisco Portón.

Ed Sikov is the author of the e-book, The Boys’ and Girls’ Little Book of Alcohol, a novel with recipes based on his Cocktail Chatter column.

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