Pisco Pours: Valley Bars with a Penchant for the Peruvian Liquor

By Editor June 21, 2016 09:58

By: Brian Garrido

Developed by Spanish settlers in the 16th century wine-growing regions of Peru and Chile, pisco is a distilled alcohol made from grapes. For Iberian transplants to the New World, it was far easier to get your groove on by making your own drink, rather than wait for the Old World cargo ships. Instead of fermenting the plentiful fruit  like wine, the colonists distilled much of the grapes like a European brandy, creating what we know as pisco.

Prior to the Prohibition, pisco was abundant in the western United States. For many, it was easier and faster to have shipped along the Pacific coasts – up from South America – than it was to have American whiskey transported over treacherous canyons and mountains by horseback. Therefore, the American southwest (including the Valley) had a history with pisco before its current trend.

Unfortunately, the liquor never quite regained its original popularity among the cocktail set after the 20th century embargo. Either way, the beverage pairs well for cocktails with today’s top Arizona mixologists urging pisco into a gentle comeback.

For the un-initiated, pisco has a particular, yet pleasant, fruity taste. In some brands, the liquor is grainy and strong; and in others, it’s fruity and pungent with grape and apple-like notes. So, we’ve selected some of the most unusual cocktails – but also a great version of a pisco sour. Get your pisco on with a few of our suggestions:

El Chullo – The Original Pisco Sour

At the two year-old, El Chullo Peruvian Restaurant and Bar, diners get a frothy, tart cocktail to pair with richly prepared traditional dishes such as ceviche (a Peruvian creation), potatoes and tamal peruano (a Peruvian tamale). Packing a punch, the restaurant’s pisco sour is served up or on the rocks. $11.

2605 North Seventh Street, Phoenix

(602) 279 – 8425

Citizen Public House – Crimson Fizz

At this chef-driven, food-focused eatery, pisco shows up in the form of Crimson Fizz, a unique take on the San Francisco creation Pisco Punch. It’s a lively, sweet and fruity combination served in an iced and foamy Pilsner glass. Think Kool-Aid for grown-ups.

7111 East Fifth Street, Scottsdale

(480) 398 – 4208


Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails – Lost Melody

Located in downtown Phoenix, the Kimpton managed restaurant is tucked into the Palomar on Jefferson. Here, mixologists shake-up the Peruvian liquor with aloe and grapefruit liqueurs, a little coconut cream and some rose flower water. The resulting drink is a mash-up of creamy, tropical flavors and served in a coupe glass. On a hot day, it’s almost like an adult Creamscicle. $11

2 Jefferson Street, Phoenix

(602) 258 – 0231


The Clever Koi – Alpaca Season

Co-owner and bar manager of The Clever Koi, Joshua James is hands-down one of the Valley’s leading mixologists. At the first Clever Koi (a second one is to open in Gilbert in the fall), you’ll find a delicious mix of global and Asian flavors. James shakes up the pisco punch with fraise des bois, a strawberry infused, liquor with lemon, lime, an egg white and a heat of black pepper. The subsequent concoction uses all the key ingredients of the summer months in a refreshing, slightly heat imbued drink. $11

4236 North Central Avenue, Phoenix

(602) 222 – 3474


Ume at Casino del Sol –  Cherry Blossom

At Tuscon’s resort, Casino del Sol, bar manager (and one of the country’s leading mixologists) Aaron de Feo uses pisco with cherry and hibiscus creating delectable floral undertones in a light libation. It’s a perfect fusion foil to the resort’s Asian eatery Ume which features sushi and Chinese food. Definitely worth the drive to Tuscon. $10.

5655 West Valencia Road, Tuscon


By Editor June 21, 2016 09:58

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