June 27, 2012
Classic pisco punch gets a new twist from an old company

The "adult beverage" part of many Fourth of July celebrations is bound to be there. But let's not forget conventional wisdom: Don't drink and drive. Plus: Moderation in all things.

That said, your backyard barbecue party could move beyond the standard beer and wine offerings to include the overlooked potent brandy called pisco. It's made from muscat grapes and is the national drink of Chile and Peru.

Pisco was the rage in the bars of San Francisco's Barbary Coast during the gold rush. Lore tells us that it was there, at the Bank Exchange & Billiard Saloon, that the famous pisco punch was concocted by owner Duncan Nicol. For aficionados, there's even a book about it: "History of Pisco in San Francisco: A Scrapbook of First Hand Accounts" by Guillermo Toro-Lira (CreateSpace, $24.99, 100 pages).

Now the 180-year-old family-owned Marnier-Lapostolle company is reintroducing pisco with its Kappa marque ($34 for a 750 milliliter bottle). The distillery furnished these recipes. Note there are many variations on the classic pisco punch.

Pisco punch
1½ ounces pisco
½ ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce pineapple juice
½ ounce lime juice
2 dashes bitters
½ ounce fresh orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

Pisco rico
1½ ounces pisco
1 ounce Grand Marnier
¾ ounce fresh lemon or lime juice
¼ ounce simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Pisco grapefruit fizz
1½ ounces pisco
3 ounces grapefruit juice
1 ounce bottled soda water (or lemon-lime soda)
Pour pisco and grapefruit juice into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with soda water (or lemon-lime soda) and garnish with a lime wedge.

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