Let’s go back in time this week to a drink that used to be one of the most popular in America: sweet, tart, and a little funky, the Pisco Punch. Pisco is that clear, fresh, and slightly funky South American Brandy we used to make the Pisco Sour a while back. Combined with the citrus and the pineapple syrup, it leaves you with a drink that’s sweet and fruity but not cloying at all. The Pisco Punch was once, as the name suggests, made in big batches and served in punch bowls. Here’s a slightly tweaked version to make one glass at a time.
Read below for the full recipe!
Illustration by Caitlin Keegan
2 oz Pisco
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Pineapple-Infused Simple Syrup
Start the night before (it’s worth the wait). Chop up a fresh pineapple into one-inch cubes, then soak the pineapple overnight in some rich simple syrup.* The next day – you waited, right? – mix the Pisco, citrus juice (lemon is the classic, but lime works really well too), and pineapple-flavored syrup, shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a chunk of pineapple and enjoy.
Once upon a time, it was cheaper to ship Pisco from Peru up to California than it was to ship fancy European Brandies across the United States. Pisco and its cocktail varieties were once so cheap and wildly popular in San Francisco, that city to which America’s cocktail culture owes so much, that every bar in the city served a Pisco Punch and some served just this drink. At least until Prohibition came along and ruined everything!
It’s drinks like this that inspired us to start this column in the first place: drinks with a history that, when made with care and quality ingredients, are astronomically better than anything served these days made with absurdly flavored Vodkas or with names that rhyme with “Martini” but don’t actually feature gin and vermouth. America has a rich culinary and drink history that our country forgot for years but, fortunately, can start enjoying again.
*To make rich simple syrup, bring some water to a boil and then take it off the heat. Stir in sugar in a 2:1 sugar to water ratio and stir until all the sugar is melted. If the sugar isn’t melting all the way, you can put it back on the heat but only briefly. Since you’re using twice as much sugar as in regular simple syrup, taking it off the heat can keep the sugar from burning while it melts. The result is a much thicker, sweeter, and silkier syrup.
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper