May 2011

Seasons Bar Pisco Punch

By: T. Oliver Lee
Pisco is all the rage today. Given the cocktail's close connection with San Francisco, we asked mixologist T. Oliver Lee, Bar Manager at Seasons Bar at Four Seasons San Francisco, to share his own recipe for this classic drink, as well as offer some notes on the ingredients.

Seasons Bar Pisco Punch

At Season Bar at Four Seasons San Francisco, we have added a refreshing Pisco Punch to the Spring Seasonal cocktail list.

Our recipe for the punch takes its inspiration form two sources: the closest anyone can find to the original recipe used by Duncan Nicol at San Francisco 's Bank Exchange in the 1800s, and a later version created by Jack Koeppler in the 1950s.

There is some debate as to whether Nicol used lemon or lime juice, but we think it tastes better with lemon.

 
PHOTO COURTESY OF
FOUR SEASONS SAN FRANCISCO
The Base:
36 oz. pisco
12 oz. spirit gum
15 oz. water
1 pineapple

The Rinse:
Hum Botanical Spirit

Garnish:
Candied pineapple wedge

Methodology:
Combine all ingredients of the base in a large container. Cube the pineapple and add it to the mixture. Let it sit for at least 24 hours. Pour a small amount of Hum into a highball glass. Add the ice and slowly pour in the Pisco Punch. Dip the candied wedge into Hum Liqueur and attach to the rim of the glass. Repeat as necessary. 

About the ingredients:

Pisco
I use Campo de Encanto Pisco. Its made by San Francisco barman Duggan McDonnell. It is the best pisco I have tasted and is quite appropriate in this cocktail, which has such a rich San Francisco history.

Spirit gum
You can either buy this or make it; I make it. There are a couple of good recipes out there, but I found that sorbet stabilizer (cremodan 64) is easy to work with and gives the syrup the right consistency.

Water
Don't cheap out! Just like branch water that is added to whiskies, it matters. I like Voss or Fiji.

Pineapple
It's a pineapple . . . what are you going to do? Just make sure that you remove all of the rough exterior before putting it into the punch. Some of my earlier punches had some little friends floating around.

Hum Botanical Spirit
I first tried  Hum Botanical Spirit after reading about Koeppler's punch. He used absinthe or another herbasaint. Hum is a new liqueur that has the same intensity as these, but with some more trendy flavors: ginger, hibiscus, Kaffir lime, etc. it also gives the punch a pretty pink color.

Rudyard Kipling said in 1889 that Pisco Punch was "compounded of the shavings of cherub's wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters."

I'm not sure if I can get any of that at Whole Foods.

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