I never get tired of mentioning that I first discovered pisco on a trip to Peru. It was also in Peru that I discovered my other love, Peruvian horses.
Imagine my delight when a bottle of BarSol Quebranta Pisco arrived for review. Not only was it a pisco, but it featured a logo of a Peruvian horse and rider, which gave me an excellent chance to refer to my beloved horses on my cocktail blog.
On to the pisco. BarSol Quebranta is a pisco puro. Puro indicates that the pisco is made from only one variety of grape, in this case the quebranta, a non-aromatic black grape variety developed in Peru. The BarSol is very dry on the nose, and that holds true in the glass. While this definitely tastes like a pisco, it’s far less sweet and robust than the acholados I tend to prefer. The BarSol is more refined and subtle than most piscos I’ve been able to find in the US. This makes it a very mixable form of grape brandy.
Naturally, when I first opened the bottle, I immediately had to make pisco sours. The BarSol makes a delightful pisco sour, very drinkable. I recommend you experiment with the right ratio of simple syrup and lime juice for your palate. I also like to occasionally use a mix of half lemon juice and half lime juice, but I find a pisco sour with all lemon juice is never quite right. And don’t be fooled into trying Meyer lemons. They do not belong in a pisco sour.
Next it was time to experiment with a new pisco drink. Aside from the sour and pisco punch, there aren’t that many great pisco-based cocktails. Yes, I do like the piscadora, and apparently San Francisco is attempting to fill the void with a rash of new pisco bars. I live further north, however, and must amuse myself with taunting my local bartenders for carrying Chilean pisco.
I’ve experimented with pisco on several TDNs, but nothing has quite worked. But on a hunch, I started experimenting with apricot brandy, and liked the initial taste. I started with Marie Brizard Apry, but found it a little too robust to find the right balance without resorting to soda water or champagne to lengthen the drink. Instead I switched to Rothman & Winter’s Orchard Apricot, which is lighter, and let the pisco sing through.
I also found that my favorite fortified wine, Lillet blanc, didn’t mix well in this context. Instead, using Martini & Rossi bianco vermouth brought the lightness. As I mentioned, the quebranta is quite dry, so I still wanted a touch of sweetness. I turned to orgeat to give an extra layer of flavor, and was not disappointed. The last note came from Fee Brothers lemon bitters, which adds a final brightness that blends all the ingredients together.
Sol de Oro
1.5 oz pisco (BarSol quebranta)
1 oz bianco vermouth
0.75 oz apricot brandy (Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot)
0.25 oz orgeat
2 dashes lemon bitters
Stir over ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
I do tend to prefer this a little sweet; if you prefer a drier cocktail, reduce the orgeat, but don’t eliminate it completely. It adds depth to the overall drink.
Since this is my first successful pisco cocktail I want to share with the world, I had to name it after Sol de Oro (Viejo), the most important modern stallion in the Peruvian breed. The port of Pisco is located in the Ica region of Peru, and Sol de Oro was discovered in the quebradas (valleys) of Ica region. Sol de Oro is the grandsire of my first Peurvian horse, Oro Ocultado, so he holds a special place in my heart.
What flavors do you think work best with pisco?