How to Make a Pisco Punch

  • Often credited to barman Duncan Nicol at the Bank Exchange, located where the Transamerica Pyramid now stands, Pisco Punch had a dramatic reputation: in 1889, Rudyard Kipling wrote that it was “compounded of the shavings of cherub’s wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters,” while others wrote that “it tastes like lemonade but comes back with the kick of a roped steer,” and that “it makes a gnat fight an elephant.”

    Fundamentally, the Pisco Punch follows the classic sour cocktail pattern: a base spirit (whiskey, rum, tequila, vodka, brandy) combined with sweet (usually a syrup or sweet liqueur) and sour (frequently lemon or lime juice). The Gimlet, the Margarita, and the Daiquiri are all classic sours.


    Makes 12 servings
    1 4-pound pineapple, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 750-ml bottle Pisco
    2 cups Simple Syrup
    1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel
    1 1/2 teaspoons grated white grapefruit peel
    2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    Ice cubes
    12 pineapple leaves (optional)

    Place pineapple pieces in large jar. Pour Pisco over. Cover and refrigerate 3 days, shaking occasionally. Divide Simple Syrup between 2 bowls. Mix grated lime peel into 1 bowl and grated grapefruit peel into the other. Cover and refrigerate both syrups overnight.
    Strain Pisco into pitcher; discard pineapple.
    Strain both syrups into Pisco. Add lemon juice; stir to blend. Fill 12 small glasses with ice, then add punch. Garnish with pineapple leaves, if desired.

    Special equipment
    cocktail shaker, strainer

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