Peru has a rich cultural heritage with plenty of reasons to celebrate. While there are countless ways to commemorate this South American oasis every year, one of the best days to remember what Peru is all about is National Pisco Day.
National Pisco Day was started in 1999 by the National Institute of Culture in Peru. While most cultural holidays celebrate important events or people, this one was designed to honor pisco, which is a quintessential Peruvian drink. Pisco is a yellowish brandy, which is most commonly made in Peru and parts of Chile. It is a high-proof spirit, which gives it a strong taste and quite a bit of kick. Historically, pisco dates back to the 1500s when Spanish settlers used it as an alternative to imported alcohol.
Since that time, pisco has grown in popularity in the region and is now exported around the world. In fact, pisco is so renowned that it was actually called the best liquor in the world by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in 2011. Although pisco is popular in all its variations, the most famous drink is the pisco sour. This Peruvian drink got its start in Lima, and it uses citrus juices, egg white and other sweet and sour ingredients.
The yearly celebration is popular throughout Peru with market stalls, drink tastings and other events. Many of the events are free to attend and are spread throughout major cities in Peru. For those who do not live in South America, it is possible to get in on the action by visiting a local Peruvian restaurant. For those who live in the San Francisco area, La Costanera Restaurant is the ideal destination. With a full bar, La Costanera has an impressive selection of wines and spirits. This includes a number of pisco drinks, most of which are imported directly from Peru.
In addition to the classic pisco sour, La Costanera Restaurant also offers pisco punch. Pisco punch is sweet, and it is sometimes likened to lemonade in flavor but with much more of a kick. The punch is sweetened with various fruit juices and other sugars. Pisco de agave, on the other hand, is flavored with agave nectar and cucumber juice for a distinctive flavor that is essentially Peruvian. The menu also includes other pisco drinks in addition to many popular beverages for a full selection on any day of the year.
The 2016 celebration takes place in February, which means there is no time to delay. To celebrate National Pisco Day in California, be sure to make a reservation at La Costanera. The excellent options for pisco can be paired with a menu full of the best Peruvian food in North America.