30 June 2010

Benito vs. the Cocktail: Pisco Punch

Punch recipes are at the same time glorious and frustrating. Glorious in that they incorporate a lot of delicious ingredients and are meant for serving dozens of soon-to-be happy people. Frustrating in that they don't often scale well and it's hard to justify making a drink for yourself and a friend that begins with "3 bottles rum, 1 case kumquats (zest only), 6 bunches mint leaves, 5 pounds hand-shaved ice..."

I picked up a simplified Pisco Punch recipe via another cocktail blogger who goes by the name barkeep.

Pisco Punch
3 parts Pisco
2 parts Pineapple Juice
1 part Lime Juice
1 part Simple Syrup
3-4 drops Gum Arabic

Combine ingredients, shake and strain. I skipped the gum arabic. It's a callback to a version of the original (and lost to the grave) recipe that involved soaking chunks of fresh pineapple in gomme syrup. Indeed, for true punches you need industrial quantities of liquor and lots of friends who want to celebrate Victorian-style in absence of other refreshment. Since I don't know 20 people who drink like 1880s gold miners, I prefer this simpler recipe.

The cocktail is sort of woody from the Pisco. There's a stems and clippings flavor and aroma that comes through in Pisco. When mixed up, the dominant flavor is pineapple, with the lime just providing a little undertone of additional acidity.

Final verdict? If this was made with vodka or rum people would gulp it down without a second thought. Pisco is a bit different, and the aroma forces you to take it a little slower. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing depends on your attitude toward Pisco.


fredric koeppel said...

I spent a week in Chile some years ago. The national drink of course is the Pisco Sour, and they have roadside stands along the highways, in case you get a thirst up, just as they have roadside espresso stands in Oregon. I confess that I never got used to the taste of Pisco, though others gulped it down in ruinous quantities.

Benito said...


I've made the Pisco Sour before, and it's a good little cocktail. This one is a bit easier, but there's still that very distinctive Pisco flavor and aroma.

I tried this a second time with half and half lemon and lime juice. Not any better or worse, just a little different. Still fun as a cool summertime punch.


Samantha Dugan said...

Zesting kumquats cracked me up

Benito said...


Some of the old recipes are crazy, and seem to work best for people that have a lot of servants (or slaves) to do the grunt work. There are other recipes like Chatham Artillery Punch that start with 2 gallons of wine, rum, and gin, and end with adding an entire case of Champagne right before serving.