While Chardonnay and to a lesser extent Torrentes and Sauvignon Blanc are almost always given the nod as South America’s favorite white wines, dry, refreshing Viognier is slowly carving out a name for itself. It pairs well with shellfish, seafood, sushi, and even curry and the wine is drunk best young.
When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil I had been traveling for approximately 22 hours. Many of those hours I was rushing to catch a train, to catch a flight, and to catch another flight. I dropped my bags off at my hotel, the Marina All Suites in Leblon, and went straight to the Hotel Fasano’s Al Mare restaurant in Ipanema to begin my first lesson in Brazilian cachaça, which few realize is the third most consumed spirit in the world. I started off with a almost traditional caipirinha with a little bit of fresh passion fruit juice in it (with Leblon), Brazil’s signature cocktail that’s muddles cachaça with sugar and lime.
Until a trip to Mexico last week, I have never quite grasped the concept premium, sipping tequilas. While I’ve always dug margaritas in just about any flavor, well tequila shots have lead to far too many bad incidents that I tried to avoid “My Mexican Cousin” at all costs. With the number of 100% agave Reposados and Anejos now on the market in the United States growing daily, I knew I couldn’t avoid exploring the better end of the spectrum any longer. My first purchase, a Partida Reposado.
The Pisco Sour is the national drink of both Peru and Chile and who makes the better cocktail is fiercely debated among both countries. In Chile, the drink isn’t blended, but shaken, lacks egg whites, and is served in a flute. Chilean Pisco is also sweeter.
I’ve never liked tomatoes much, even though I was born in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, the birthplace of the tomato (debatable). I think it has something to do with my Italian mother serving us Spaghetti with marinara sauce three times a week. However, I’ve become accustomed to Bloody Mary’s at Sunday brunches in Brooklyn. It’s such a pick me up after a late night, though I’ve searching long and hard for some sort of an alternative sans tomato. A sort of green drink Bloody Mary.
The Chilcano de Pisco is one of Peru’s classic cocktails, right up there with the Pisco Sour and Algarobbina. For many foreigners visiting Peru, it is the drink that starts their love for Pisco and is one of the easiest pisco based cocktails to make.
Mosto Verde Pisco is almost always the priciest bottle from any major pisco vendor. The name isn’t referencing the type of grape used in the pisco rather it relates to the distillation process. Mosto Verde simply means green must. Unlike a normal Pisco distillation, Mosto Verde does not allow the grapes to ferment completely, which leaves the liquid with some sugar content. The resulting taste is smooth, velvety, and full bodied. Mosto Verde is pisco is typically drank straight, though more and more mixologists that understand it’s subtle qualities are using it in cocktails that let those flavors shine.
Singani is Bolivia’s answer to Pisco in Peru and Chile. The clear, 80 proof spirit is distilled from muscatel of Alexandria grapes in the southern city of Tarija and sometimes just over the border in northwest Argentina, however, its origins trace it back to the Valley of Cinti in Chuquisaca when Augustinian monasteries that had been in the region since the 1550’s began distilling wine.
I was in Puerto Rico not long ago and someone was recommending to me traditional Puerto Rican food and drinks and the Piña Colada came up.
“But that’s not from Puerto Rico though, right?”
“Yes, it is. A guy at some hotel in San Juan invented it.”
My entire life I thought the Piña Colada was just some generic beach cocktail recipe, probably created by a Rum company somewhere. Heading to San Juan a few days later I went to investigate.
Tacama Vineyards in Ica, Peru have always produced Piscos, though I have never really been that impressed with them in the past. They have never been terrible, but just average. On a recent visit to Ica I stopped by the Tacama distillery to see what’s new and taste a few of their new piscos and wines and I was impressed on both fronts.