The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 82 of 140

82  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2015 Peruvian Playground Honoring Peru and celebrating its diverse culture and population, China Chilcano in Washington, D.C. features Peruvian cuisine with Spanish and Asian accents. Paying homage to the country's spirit of choice, the restaurant boasts one of the largest and most diverse selections of piscos in the U.S.—over 30 and counting. Evidence of its emphasis on the spirit can be found in a very pisco-knowl- edgeable staff—who go through extensive training on its nuances and history—as well as in menu options like the vertical and horizontal tasting flights categorized by type. "It's a spirit that deserves a lot more attention," explains Jasmine Chae, Beverage Manager of José Andrés' Thinkfoodgroup. "Our guests are always surprised by how smooth it can be and by its diversity." The establishment carries both the Italia and Moscatel, with the former in their Peruvian88 cocktail. "The single varietals both have a lot of character, which proves just how much care goes into each," she continues. "Due to its almost potpourri quality, the Italia works espe- cially well in lighter cocktails—furthermore, it can replace gin in most instances." Without a doubt, customers looking to appreciate the diverse flavors of Peru will find it here in both food and drink. "Scotland had Johnnie Walker, the U.S. had Jim Beam, France had Richard Hennessy and Peru has Melanie Asher!" exclaimed Ann Tuenerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, at the recent Dame Hall of Fame awards during this year's cocktail festival in New Orleans. This statement might seem bold for those who are not yet familiar with Asher, but as CEO, Distiller and Master Blender for Macchu Pisco and tire- less advocate of pisco, she is putting Peru on the spirits map. Her distillery—a family-run business with Melanie and her sister, Lizzie, the President of the company, at the helm—pro- duces three lines of pisco, each representing one of the styles of Peru's pisco: Macchu Pisco, a premium single-variety pisco made from the non-aromatic quebranta grape; La Diablada, a pisco blend that is the only vintaged pisco in the market—the name stemming from an Andean dance repre- senting angels and demons performed during Carnival; and Ñusta, a mosto verde reserve that is the world's first luxury- grade pisco. The pair decided that the Italia and Moscatel grapes were so special that they deserved to stand alone, so, this fall, they launched two single varietal expressions within the La Diablada portfolio. Melanie describes these new offer- ings: "We are deconstructing La Diablada to give breadth to the pisco category and give more tools to the bartender by presenting to them the one dimensional structure of these single grapes that embody the terroir of the desert valley of the Pisco region of Peru." Using a gravity press, 16 pounds of grapes end up in every bottle, after which, the piscos rest for two years. While simul- taneous flavors of sweet and spicy characterize the blended or acholado style of La Diablada, the finished single varietal products spirits offer aromatic fragrance and brightness on the palate, but in very different scopes. The Italia includes layers of citrus on top of white flowers such as gardenias and lilies as a backdrop. On the other hand, the Moscatel's notes of roses and jasmine shine through green apples and pears. Melanie recommends the Italia for punches, including the milk punch, and the Moscatel for Martini-style drinks that allow the pisco to take center stage. Peruvian88 ◗ 1 oz. La Diablada Italia ◗ ½ oz. simple syrup ◗ ½ oz. lemon juice ◗ ½ oz. St-Germain liqueur ◗ 2 oz. Naverana Cava Combine all of the ingredients, except for the cava, in mixing tin. Add ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into a white wine glass or champagne flute. Add cava and garnish with a lemon peel.

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