The Anachronistic Chef: Pisco Punch

When Bobby Heugel featured the pisco sour as his cocktail of the week back in 2010, I stood up and cheered, for I had become a huge fan of pisco after visiting Peru. Rereading his post last week, I also learned about another old-school pisco cocktail, thanks to commenter Walter Moore, who proclaimed his love for Pisco Punch. So, I put on my Anachronistic Chef, er, Mixologist, hat and did some research.

Introduced by Duncan Nichol in San Francisco at the turn of the century, Pisco Punch certainly has a rather colorful history. Many celebrated figures have attested to the power and appeal of the drink via witty prose descriptions; my favorite is that of Rudyard Kipling, who called the punch "compounded of the shavings of cherub's wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters."

Okay, I'll take three glasses.

Recipe details, after the jump:

The original ingredients of Pisco Punch are straight-forward, with the exception of "gum/gomme arabic," which, as you might have guessed, is a bit hard to find in the twenty-first century. Natural foods stores allegedly stock it, though I've never come across it at Whole Foods (readers, chime in if you've spotted it). You can make your own or skip it altogether. Word of warning: the absence of the emulsifying syrup means a less even texture and flavor balance. Anyway, here's a relatively simple recipe:

Pisco Punch

  • 2 ounces of pisco
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce pineapple gomme*

First, make the gomme: peel and core a pineapple and cut into 1-inch cubes. Soak pineapple in a bowl filled with one quart of gomme syrup OR simple syrup overnight. Strain the syrup. Tip: Freeze remaining pineapple chunks to use as "ice cubes."

Combine pisco, lemon juice, and prepared gomme in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain and serve in a chilled glass. If possible, drink on top of Machu Picchu during sunset.

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Joanna O'Leary