Pisco Punch Recipes For National Pisco Day - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Pisco Punch Recipes For National Pisco Day
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Pisco Punch Recipes For Pisco Day

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[1] Pisco Portón, one of the finest pisco brands (photo © Caraved Pisco).

Pisco Punch Cocktail
[2] Pisco Punch. Here’s another version of the recipe using pineapple gum syrup (photo © Liber & Co.).

  Pisco (PEE-skoe), the national spirit of Peru, is celebrated with two holidays each year: Pisco Day on the fourth Sunday of July, and Pisco Sour Day on the first Saturday of February, honoring Peru’s national drink.

Pisco is made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. It was developed by 16th-century Spanish settlers as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain.

For Pisco Day, here are two Pisco punch recipes that aren’t the Pisco Sour. Punches are good for a crowd, can be made a day in advance, and are easy to pour from a pitcher.

Make the punch a day in advance, you can chill it thoroughly in the fridge so less ice will be required (it dilutes the drink as it melts). The larger the cubes, the slower they melt.

> The history of Pisco.

> The history of Pisco Punch is below.


  • Peels of three lemons, each cut into spirals with a vegetable peeler
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice*
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) pisco
  • 1 quart cold water
  • Garnish: 1 star fruit
  • Ice cubes

    1. MUDDLE the lemon peels and sugar together and let sit for at least 90 minutes. Muddle the lemon and sugar again, then stir in the lemon juice.

    2. ADD the pisco and the water and stir. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

    3. CUT the star fruit into ¼ to ½ inch slices right before serving. To serve, pour into a glass pitcher and float the star fruit slices. Add ice cubes as needed.

    *Juice the three lemons after you cut the peels.




  • 1 bottle (750ml) pisco
  • 16 ounces pineapple juice
  • 6 ounces simple syrup (Simple Syrup Recipe)
  • ½ fresh pineapple in cubes
  • 7 ounces fresh strawberries, diced
  • Ice cubes
  • Mint leaves

    1. MIX all ingredients in a punch bowl or pitcher.

    2. SERVE in rocks glasses; garnish with pineapple and strawberry squares and mint.

    While Pisco and the Pisco Sour are native to Peru, Pisco Punch was created in San Francisco in the late 19th century.

    It’s believed that Pisco Punch was invented in a bar called the San Francisco Bank Exchange and Billiard Saloon, located where the Transamerica Pyramid is today.

    Different people are credited with inventing Pisco Punch: John Torrence, one of the early owners of the bar; Duncan Nicol, the bar’s last owner; and Professor Jerry Burns, also of the Bank Exchange. (The bar opened in 1853 and closed in 1919 with the advent of Prohibition.)

    Difford’s Guide credits Burns, but says the origin could lie with bartenders who made the drink aboard steamships of the late 1800s. These ships stopped in Peru en route to San Francisco.

    Wherever the true origin, the San Francisco Bank Exchange’s recipe was a closely-guarded secret.

    Today’s Pisco Punch is made with a combination of Pisco, pineapple gum syrup, lemon juice, and distilled water.

    The recipe is based on one found among the papers of John Lannes, who took ownership of the San Francisco Bank Exchange right before it was forced to close due to Prohibition.

      Pisco Punch Cocktail With Pineapple Wedge Garnish
    [3] Pineapple Pisco Punch (photo © Beyond Reproach Pod).

    Vin Mariani French poster from 1894
    [4] An 1894 poster advertising Vin Mariani by Jules Chéret, a master of Belle Époque poster art who has been called the father of the modern poster (public domain image via Wikipedia).

    Gum syrup is a rich simple syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar:water instead of the standard 1:1) combined with gum Arabic, an all-natural resin harvested from the Acacia tree of Northeast Africa.

    According to Taste Atlas, there is also another ingredient that has been lost due over time, although it may have been Vin Mariani, a coca wine and patent medicine created in the 1860s by Angelo Mariani, a French chemist from the island of Corsica (image #4) [source].

    It was made with Bordeaux wine. The ethanol in the wine acted as a solvent and extracted the cocaine from the coca leaves. (You can still buy Vin Mariani, although today’s recipe uses decocainized coca leaves.)

    Today there’s no Vin Mariani in the basic recipe, although if you want to buy a bottle you can play around with it.

    When you drink a Pisco Punch, you join the ranks of Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, who both enjoyed it at the San Francisco Bank Exchange.

    In his 1889 book From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, Letters of Travel, Kipling wrote that the drink was “compounded of the shavings of cherub wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters.”

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