In this five part series, Chef Nico Vera presents the rich culinary history of Peru through the lens of a five course meal. Follow along as he breaks down Peruvian flavors, transporting us to the land of Incas and beyond. Read Part One here.
During the time of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, Lima was known as “The City of The Kings,” and was a major port for trade between the Americas and Europe. It was this trade that introduced new produce to Peruvian soil such as onions, limes and grapes. At ﬁrst, the grapes were grown to produce wine, but the wine from Peru was so well received that it was banned by the King of Spain lest it compete with wines from Spain. This forced the Viceroyalty of Peru to ﬁnd another use for its vineyards in the Ica Valley, and in the late 1500‘s the wine was distilled to make Pisco.
Pisco may be the oldest distilled spirit in the Americas, but it wasn’t until 1920 that the National Drink of Peru, the Pisco Sour, was born in Lima by mixing two parts Pisco, one part simple syrup, one part lime juice, and egg whites, shaken with ice, and served strained with drops of Angostura bitters. For a full recipe, click here.
Today, Pisco is in the midst of a renaissance due to its versatility as a brandy born from a royal ban with a terroir that is as unique as the land where it came from.
Nico Vera is a Peruvian chef and Pisco mixologist based in San Francisco, California, where he promotes Peruvian food and culture through pop-up dinners and cocktail classes. You can find his recipes and calendar of events on his blog, Pisco Trail.