Finally, a much awaited drink comes to India. To celebrate the Chilean National Day on the 19th September 2009, H.E. Ambassador Alfonso Silva Navarro of Chile, gathered all “friends of Chile” at the Claridges, New Delhi. Post the National anthems, we were introduced to PISCO. Sommelier Magandeep SINGH introduced the distinguished guests to this irresistible South American spirit which was once immortalised in the words of the poet Pablo Neruda as “bottled sunshine.”
The evening was set on a ‘high’-roll with three major attractions, Pisco, Pisco cocktails and the Pisco man of India, Mr. B. Srinivas Rao. Mr. Rao works as an Administrative Assistant at the Chilean Embassy but his hidden powers include the ability to make some super-duper Pisco cocktails. He has been serving and relishing the elixir there for the past 16 years. No man claims to have made as much Pisco Sour as him in India. He definitely had the Wi-Not team’s attention and respect!
Pisco is essentially a grape based spirit which is made in similar style as a brandy, but with grapes limited to the Muscat family. It was traditionally aged in clay casks but new ones may be aged in barrels. Pisco, like most spirits, is diluted to bring down to around 40% alcoholic strength before being sold. But with old Piscos, they may not be diluted, in order to not interfere with the nuanced flavours. Therefore, older the Pisco, stronger in alcohol the maker tends to leave it. To enjoy this gem, it is preferred to have it either straight, on the rocks, or as the base for cocktails like Pisco Sour (Pisco + lime juice in equal measure, sugar + and egg white of one egg to build the froth), Mango Sour (Pisco + mango juice + lime), Piscola (Pisco + Cola) or in White Piscola (Pisco + Lemonade). Its origin is yet untraceable, or debatable, but what is important is that on the 19th of September 2009 in the year of our Lord, this drink was consumed and thoroughly enjoyed right here in India.
As Magan enlightened Pisco admirers about the drink, the ‘Pisco Man’ displayed his magical Pisco Sour recipes on stage. Later, Mr. Rao was kept busy concocting for all gathered luminaries. while the Wi-Not team enjoyed some Mutton and Cheese empanadas, a delicacy prepared and presented from the Ambassador’s residence. The evening saw some beautiful Chilean wines as well but Pisco remained the Star of the show.