Want to see the gloves come off? Gather a Peruvian and a Chilean, then ask them where the best pisco comes from. Make sure you stand far back, because the fight could get dirty; a huge controversy surrounds this grape brandy.
The history of pisco production dates back to the beginning of the colonial era and the early wine-producers in what would become southern Peru. In order to supplement their income, these viticulturists produced a stronger, cheaper drink, which they sold at the port of Pisco.
Today, Peruvian pisco distillation is highly sophisticated and heavily regulated. The spirit comes in several varieties, including pisco puro (made from non-fragrant grapes, usually quebranta), pisco aromÃ¡tico (from Italia, torontel or mosquetal grapes) and pisco acholado (from a blend of several grapes). Also available is the luscious crema de pisco, a crÃ¨me liqueur, and perfecto amor, a blend of pisco and wine that packs a wallop you wonâ€™t feel until you try to stand up.
In Peru, pisco bodegas exist in Lima, Ica, Moquegua, Arequipa and Tacna provinces. The best places to visit the vineyards are in Ica and Moquegua. Some Peruvians believe Moquegua makes the finer spirit.
Pisco is most often prepared as a pisco sour, a cocktail that originated at Maruy Hotelâ€™s Rojo Bar in downtown Lima in the early 20th century. It is made with pisco, lime juice, sugar, egg whites and angostura bitters. Other pisco cocktails are the Tacna sour, the Machu Picchu and the bandera mokewana.
A veritable war is now being fought between Peru and Chile over the rights to claim pisco as their respective national drink. While Peru claims its historic origin, Chile was the first to expand its production and create a massive export market. Chileans argue that foreign taste buds recognize their product as the "authentic" version. Peruvians counter that the Chilean version, which allows additives and is yellow in color as opposed to clear, is not "authentic" because it deviates from the traditional method of production. The pisco battle is not likely to be settled anytime soon.
Ingredients: 2 oz. Pisco; Â¾ oz. lime juice; Â½ oz. simple syrup (granulated sugar melted in water); 1 egg white; 3 oz. ice or enough to fill a cocktail shaker; a few dashes of Angostura bitters.
First make the simple syrup then blend together pisco, lime juice, simple syrup and egg white with ice. Take an old-fashioned or highball glass, dip the rim in egg white and then sugar. Strain the drink into the glass and sprinkle with a few drops of Angostura bitters. Salud!