Pisco Punch

By Ed Sikov

Cocktail Chatter

Call me the Pisco Kid. Yes, I'm still on a Pisco kick. The attentive reader will recall that my last Cocktail Chatter column concerned the Peruvian firewater called Pisco, a delicious and hard-knockin' brandy distilled from Muscat grapes. Research into the drink's history yielded the unexpected information that a punch made out of Pisco and pineapple syrup was San Francisco's most fashionable cocktail in the late 1800s. Nowadays, the Pisco Sour appears more often on cocktail lists than Pisco Punch, so I decided to take the more adventurous route and make a round of the punch for Dan and me.

Well, sports fans, it was a punch in both senses of the word. The cocktail knocked us off our feet. We ended up ordering Chinese delivery for dinner, because after a couple of these babies neither one of us was capable of cooking. Besides, given the alcohol on our breath, lighting the cooktop would have put us at risk of blowing up the kitchen. Like Planters' Punch, Pisco Punch is so delightfully drinkable that you don't know you're getting snockered until it's too late to do much about it. Do not - I repeat, do not - go to the trouble of creating a multi-course meal if you're planning to serve Pisco Punch as "le cocktail du nuit." By the time you're ready to serve your laboriously created Beef Wellington your guests won't care if you served them Alpo straight from the can. Here's both the classic recipe and my time-saving and less watered-down variation.

Pisco Punch (The Classic Version)

Cut a fresh pineapple into chunks, or - better - buy a container of cut-up fresh pineapple, and place the chunks in a larger sealable plastic container along with 1/2 cup of Really Simple syrup.* Refrigerate overnight so that the fruit macerates. The next day, mix the following in a cocktail shaker or pitcher for each portion you plan to serve:

2 TBS pineapple-infused simple syrup from the container of pineapple

4 TBS filtered water

3 TBS lemon juice

6 TBS Pisco Porton

Refrigerate the shaker or pitcher until you're ready to serve the drink. Do not serve the punch on ice unless you haven't chilled the punch enough; it shouldn't be watery. Serve with a chunk of pineapple in each glass.

*Note: Simple Syrup is a pain to make the classic way; it's much easier to mix equal parts of sugar and water in a jar, put the lid on the jar, and shake it till the sugar is dissolved.

Pisco Punch (My Quicker, Punchier Variation)

Buy a can of pineapple chunks in syrup. In a cocktail shaker or pitcher, mix the following ingredients for each portion:

2 TBS pineapple syrup from the can

3 TBS lemon juice

6 TBS Pisco Porton

Chill the cocktail thoroughly in the refrigerator before serving; again, do not serve over ice. And forget the chunk of pineapple stuck in the glass since it's just going to take up space that would be better served by the cocktail itself. Moreover, you don't really want to see your guests digging the thing out of their glasses with their fingers and then wiping their sticky hands on your nice throw pillows.

Ed Sikov is the author of the e-book, "The Boys' and Girls' Little Book of Alcohol," a novel with recipes based on his Cocktail Chatter column.
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