By: Kelly A. Magyarics
WASHINGTON, DC BARTENDING COMPETITION KICKS OFF NATIONAL SEARCH FOR BEST PISCO COCKTAIL
The original recipe is sublimely simple: pisco, lemon, sugar and egg white, served up, on the rocks or blended, and garnished with a few drops of Angostura bitters. But as twelve mixologists from the Washington, DC area recently proved, the unabashedly sippable, classic cocktail has infinite-and infinitely delicious-variations.
In February, the Embassy of Peru and producer Macchu Pisco kicked off a nationwide search for the "Centennial Macchu Pisco Sour," the most fitting pisco-based drink to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the re-discovery of Macchu Picchu. I was on the judging panel along with Derek Brown, cocktail consultant and mixologist at DC's Columbia Room, Washington Life editor Michael Clements, and CNN en Español Producer Willie Lora.
Pisco is a clear, grape-based brandy developed in Peru in the 16th century by Spanish settlers. Though both Peru and Chile lay claim to pisco in a fiercely patriotic and contentious battle, most will at least concede that the Pisco Sour is actually a North American invention, created by an American in the early 1900s. "It's incredible that there's so much pride and animosity over a cocktail," mused contestant Clinton Terry of Alexandria, VA speakeasy PX. "But it's always fun to see those so passionate about what they believe in."
Passion and creativity were certainly not in short order in a contest where area bar stars brought their A-game. Overall winner Jason Strich of DC Indian restaurant Rasika won over judges and guests with his Chicha Sour. Strich created his house made, sweet and spicy chicha by germinating purple corn, boiling it with spices and fermenting it wi