The Living in Southwest Florida, I have a tremendous appreciation for the diverse Spanish culture: culinary, music, and, of course, liquor. While Tequila gets a lot of the glory, there are other distilled spirits from this culture that are well worth your attention. One of these libations I have recently discovered is Pisco, and it is a main ingredient of the cocktail I call Inca.
The prohibition-era cocktail Algonquin was my inspiration. I updated the recipe by pairing pisco with the wheat-based Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Bourbon instead of the traditional rye. Pisco is a grape spirit that originated in Peru or Chile, depending on who you talk to since both claim ownership. Who makes the best version of Pisco inspires as much passion among these two nations as the debate about whether Jack Daniels is bourbon here in the States.
For my version, I am using Peru’s Caravedo Mosto Verde. This Peruvian spirit flavor profile is somewhere between tequila and mezcal to my taste buds. I don’t deviate too much from the original other than in measurements and the use of dry/sweet vermouth combination which I find works better with the other ingredients present. The bitters and syrup round everything out.
The Algonquin takes its name from the New York hotel so it makes sense to play Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” (Columbia), one of the greats, while sipping my version. Imagine yourself at The Vanguard in 1961 hearing Mr. Davis in his prime and you get the idea. And if you have never heard “Kind of Blue”…well, do yourself a favor and remedy that situation immediately.
Flavor Profile: tropical fruits with a hint of minerality
- 1 1/4 oz Bourbon (Maker’s Mark Cask Strength)
- 3/4 oz Pisco (Caravedo Mosto Verde)
- 3/4 oz Pineapple Juice (unsweetened)
- 1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
- 1/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
- Simple Syrup
Preparation: Fill the bottom of the mixing glass with a coating of simple syrup. Add bitters. Add ice. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir for approximately one minute. Strain into a martini glass, or a small rocks glass with a large ice cube.