Spirited Traveller: Santiago's pisco makes tipplers tremble

Tue May 8, 2012 9:11am EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Here's a tip for the thirsty traveller: Both Chile and Peru make tasty variations on the grape brandy known as pisco. Try both if you can.

But wherever you are, pretend that your host country's pisco is the only one for you.

In Santiago, they don't want to hear about Peruvian pisco, which has dominated export markets in America and Europe. A recent push to raise the profile of Chilean pisco may soon move it onto the outside-world's radar.

In particular, Chile's barrel-aged variations are worth seeking out, with flavors that evoke honey and maple syrup. (By comparison, Peru's more traditional methods don't allow for wood-ageing.)

"There are two emblematic drinks every traveller should try when visiting Santiago," says Javier Marcos, export director for Pisco Capel. The first is a crisp and classic Pisco Sour (pisco, lemon, sugar - but not egg whites, as would be found in Peru). The second is the "Piscola", which mixes pisco and cola over ice, plus a thin slice of lemon.

Thrill-seeking tipplers may also consider the famed "Terremoto" (Earthquake), containing pipeño (a sweet fermented white wine), ice cream and pineapple. Served in a one-liter glass, the drink is named, some say, for the trembly feeling experienced after downing it.

Often, the drink is followed by a half-size serving, called a "Replica" (aftershock).

For business transactions over a meal and a drink, Marcos recommends restaurants such as La Mar (www.lamarcebicheria.com/), "where they serve seafood emblematic of Chile" plus an all-pisco cocktail menu, and elegant Miraolas (www.miraolas.cl/), another seafood restaurant.   Continued...