Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Bottle photos by the importers.
Pisco & Cachaça
Though my years of peregrinations, I have developed a liking for certain alcoholic beverages beyond the standard whiskies, vodka, brandy etc.
During my visits to South America I became enamored of cocktails like Pisco Sour – Chile’s national drink – and Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. Another drink I like is Chicha, a deceptively mild alcoholic drink made from fermented corn and fruit juice; the Chilean version is mostly made from a blend of strawberries and corn (maize).
Pico Sour is made with a spirit similar to grappa mixed in a sour mix. The most common version of Pisco is Branco, non-aged, distilled from fermented grape juice or the fermented pomace (pulp, pits and skins) left over after pressing grapes to get the must. There is also an oak barrel aged version called “Mistral” but that is not used in cocktails. Caipirinha is made with Cachaça (Pinga), a white spirit similar to non-aged rum distilled from fermented sugar-cane juice and mixed with the sour mix.
Both Pisco and Cachaça are now available in the US market and, even though not every liquor store carries them, they are not that difficult to find or you can order them through the internet, unless you are in a state that doesn’t allow spirits to be shipped into the state. The Chicha family of drinks is still mostly available in Chile, Venezuela or Peru; it was first created in Peruvian Andean villages about 7,000 years ago.
There are numerous recipes for creating cocktails based on Pisco or Caipirinha.
Classic Pisco Sour
8 oz. Pisco (Blanco is preferred)
1/2 cup Fresh Orange Juice
1/2 cup Fresh Lime Juice
12 oz. Club Soda
4 oz. Simple Syrup
1/2 Egg White
Maraschino cherry for garnish - optional
Mix the liquid ingredients in a shaker. Shake then add ice and shake with ice until well chilled. Strain and pour into a champagne flute. Garnish with angostura bitters drops or Maraschino cherry.
1 lime sliced in quarters lengthwise and the pith removed
1-2 tablespoons of sugar
2 ounces of cachaça
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
Use lime slices to garnish.
In a short glass or in a cocktail shaker, combine the lime quarters with the sugar and use a muddler to gently crush and squeeze out the lime juice from the limes. Add the cachaça and lime juice, stir or shake well. If using a cocktail shaker pour the drink, including the muddled limes, into a short glass with crushed ice. Serve immediately garnished with a lime slice.
Prickly Pear Pisco Sour
1 oz. Pisco
1.5 oz. Prickly Pear Liqueur (Friddicelli “Liquore di Ficodindia” is available in US)
1 oz. Lemon Juice
1 oz. Lime Juice
0.5 oz. Orange Liqueur
0.5 oz. Agave Nectar or Simple Syrup
Mix the liquid ingredients in a shaker. Shake, then add ice and shake with ice until well chilled. Strain while pouring into a glass.
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