Featured Cocktail: Pisco Punch
Pisco is a Peruvian grape brandy, and it’s got a lovely, light flavor that lingers somewhere in between vodka, cachaca, and some of the lighter agave spirits.
Pisco punch was developed at a bar called the Bank Exchange Saloon in San Francisco in the mid-1800s, and various versions of it were made available by the head bartenders there throughout the ensuing decades. The most renowned version came from the most renowned (and last) manager – a man named Duncan Nicol, who was unfortunately forced to close the bar in 1919 due to the Volstead Act.
Another unfortunate loss is that Nicol took the actual recipe for Pisco Punch to his grave, leaving us to speculate and put things together without a significant trail of breadcrumbs.
So, after perusing some of the historical descriptions of the drink and performing a little recipe meta analysis from about 10 google results, here’s the version we’re comfortable putting forward for you to try.
To make a Pisco Punch cocktail, you’ll need:
- 2 oz Pisco
- ¾ oz Pineapple Gomme Syrup
- ¾ oz Lemon Juice
Actually, kind of a simple recipe, although I’m sure Duncan Nicol had his own secret sauce that made it just perfect.
A Note on Pineapple Gomme Syrup
“Gomme” refers to the presence of “gum arabic” which is a non-glutinous thickener that you can purchase pretty cheaply online, and it simply serves to give a bit more body to a syrup that contains both sugar and pineapple. It’s almost like putting cornstarch in your gravy. So, if you’re going to make something like that at home, check out Episode 053 of this podcast – Homemade Syrups – before you get started. There’s a lot of great info there that will ensure that your house-made syrup experiments are successful.
Large Format Pisco Punch
It’s important to point out that the above recipe is essentially a standard sour recipe. You’ve got 2 oz of a spirit, ¾ oz of a sweetener, and ¾ oz of fresh citrus juice. And this begs the question, how is this a punch? Where’s the spice? Where’s the water?
Well, let’s say you DO want to make this cocktail in a large format that will serve a number of guests. Here’s what I’d recommend:
Adjusting the classic 4:2:1:1 punch ratio to a 3:2:1:1 ratio of Water to Spirit to Sugar to Sour, you’ll need:
- 36 oz of Distilled or Spring Water
- 1 750ml bottle of Pisco
- 12 oz of Pineapple Gomme Syrup
- 12 oz of Lemon Juice
If you’re following this punch recipe, you’ll want to combine all these ingredients and get them chilled down somehow before service, whether that’s in a large pitcher or two in the fridge, or in a traditional punch bowl with a block of ice.