For those of you who love a good cocktail and the South American country of Peru then this week the place to be is London. Yes, London and not Peru, because it’s the fourth special edition of London Pisco Sour week, running from Saturday 3rd to Friday 9th February 2018, when bars and restaurants around London celebrate the Peruvian National drink, the much loved and drunk Pisco Sour!
But first a little background and history. Pisco is a variation of the word Pisccu which is derived from Quechua, the ancient Inca’s language, meaning bird. The name was thus given to a Peruvian coastal town that had an abundance of flamingo birds and the spirit was therefore named in honour of this town and is where reportedly the first vine seeds were sown to produce Pisco back in the 16th century.
Pisco is actually a grape brandy that comes from a rather unique mix of European vine adapted for the sunny soils of the southern Peruvian coast. Much of its history however, is a bit of a mystery. For example, some think that it was produced from left over grapes unsuitable for wine production or from the Spanish Kings imposing heavy taxes on South American wines threatening their own wine industry.
Whatever its history though, this very successful drink has gained popularity over the years, is extremely versatile and can be enjoyed on its own neat, paired with dishes and desserts or of course mixed in cocktails. Pisco is also the perfect way in which to discover this beautiful South American country in addition to that lovable bear who loves marmalade sandwiches and does such a terrific job acting as a Peruvian tourism ambassador!
There is no doubt that the Paddington Bear films have fuelled enthusiasm for people wanting to visit Peru and in particular its capital city, Lima.
The Museo de Arte de Lima contains the largest collection of Peruvian artwork and paintings in the world and is housed in the former Exhibition Palace on Paseo Colón. And for those of you who like history, Lima has its share of archaeological sites and has in fact been designated an “Ancient City”. The shoppers amongst you will love the modern Miraflores district, which is the place to go and has some beautiful gardens in which to relax and take in the atmosphere.
For the foodies amongst you, Lima is viewed by many as perhaps the gastronomy capital of the world and hosts the most important gastronomic fair in Latin America. Whilst Paddington’s favourite meal may be marmalade sandwiches, you will find plenty local Peruvian dishes with its African, Chinese and Indigenous influences to tempt you, such as the ceviche and tiradito.
Turning our attention back to London and Pisco, you will find a number of different brands of Pisco here in the UK, which include Porto, Machuu Pisco, La Diablada, La Caravedo, Quollque, Sol de Ica, Tabernero, Barsol and 1615. Some 76% of the pisco imports in the UK come from Peru and has become an extremely versatile spirit for cocktail-making around the capital and at London cocktail festivals.
One such bar and restaurant that is taking part once again in this year’s Pisco Sour Week is the popular The Jones Family Project in Shoreditch where Patrick, one of their talented bar team has created a special Pisco Sour cocktail for this week, which offers a twist on the traditional Pisco Sour and includes a mix of Pisco Portón, Frangelico Italian hazelnut liqueur, lemon juice, egg white and topped with some fresh blueberries.