Exploring Pisco Porton

Pisco Porton
Pisco Porton

While there are a number of piscos on the market, few are putting in the marketing muscle behind the category as Pisco Portón. Owned by the Kallop family, Pisco Portón has been designed from the ground up to be the Patron of Pisco. It’s no mistake that William Kallop founder of Pisco Portón, is friends with Patron founder Ed Brown, who he consulted with before starting the brand. One of Pisco Portón‘s key missions is to cultivate the universe for pisco beyond the signature pisco sour. “The pisco sour is an amazing drink when made correctly, but can be terrible when made poorly,” comments Pisco Portón’s Chief Operating Officer Jean-Francois Bonneté. Jean-Francois comes to Pisco Portón from W. J. Deutsch & Sons where he helped build the spirits division, and Cognac Ferrand where he helped launch Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Citadel Gin, and Landy Cognac in the US.

“Pisco Portón is excellent when mixed with ginger beer and a twist of lime,” explains Bonneté, “It’s easy and delicious.” In addition to presenting pisco as something that can easily be enjoyed, Pisco Portón is working to cultivate a universe of cocktails beyond the pisco sour.  At a recent dinner hosted by Pisco Portón at the ArtBar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Pisco Portón showcased the extensibility of their pisco by inviting key members of the Boston chapter of the USBG (United States Bartenders’ Guild) to both pair pisco cocktails with local fare and to innovate with pisco as a base spirit in cocktails.  Through eight courses and eight cocktails, the evening took diners through a journey of food and pisco.

Some of the standout cocktails of the evening were:

David Delaney, Jr. - Grapes 3-Ways
David Delaney, Jr. - Grapes 3-Ways

David Delaney, Jr.’s welcome cocktail was a riff on the many dimensions of the grape flavor using Pisco Portón, champagne, and Pineau des Charentes (which is a cognac-based French aperitif). The grape notes were complemented by lavender honey and fresh orange juice, which brought all the elements together into a slightly sweet and easily sippable cocktail that was light and refreshing.

Grapes 3-Ways by David Delaney, Jr.
3/4 oz Pisco Portón
1 oz Pineau de Charentes
1/2 oz Lavender Honey
1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice
Top with Champagne
1 sprig fresh lavender to garnish

Serve in a Champagne Flute

Kelly Coggins - Love Portón #9
Kelly Coggins - Love Portón #9

Kelly Coggins followed David Delaney, Jr.’s drink with a nice aperitif take on Pisco Portón. By mixing Pisco Portón with Aperol and Yellow Chartreuse, Coggins created a dry and wonderfully soft cocktail that showcased both the fantastic flavors and aromas from the pisco. It was nice to see pisco presented so solidly in the aperitif space and the cocktail was a terrific introduction to the slightly bitter and herbal qualities found in aperitifs.

Love Portón #9 by Kelly Coggins
3/4 oz Pisco Portón
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 oz crisp white wine (Gruener or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 oz Club Soda
Grapefruit zest to garnish

Serve in a wine glass.

Elizabeth Powell's Hangtown Dream
Elizabeth Powell's Hangtown Dream

One of my absolute favorite drinks of the evening was Elizabeth Powell’s Hangtown Dream. Elizabeth combined Pisco Portón with Laird’s Applejack, apple shrub, and acid phosphate to make a drink that delivered sweet, citrus, and floral in complete balance. In an evening of 8 cocktails, I found myself shamelessly finishing this superb drink.

Hangtown Dream by Elizabeth Powell
2 oz Pisco Portón
Large dash Extinct Acid Phosphate
1 oz Green Delicious Apple Shrub
1 oz Laird’s AppleJack
Long Spiral Green Delicious Apple peel to garnish

Stir all ingredients over ice until glass is frosted. Spritz Green Chartreuse into a rocks glass and fill with cocktail. Garnish with a long spiral of Green Delicious Apple Peel.

Sam Treadway's Peruvian BBQ
Sam Treadway's Peruvian BBQ

Using hot sauce in a cocktail can be quite tricky, but Sam Treadway found the perfect balance with his delicious cocktail, the Peruvian BBQ. Mixing Pisco Portón with fresh lime and maple syrup, Sam riffed on a fairly classic combination, but with a dash of smoked chipotle Tabasco the drink took on an entirely new life. The Peruvian BBQ is a superb cocktail, easy to make, and extraordinarily delicious.

Peruvian BBQ by Sam Treadway
1 3/4 oz Pisco Portón
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz maple syrup
1 dash smoked chipotle Tabasco
Charred lime wheel to garnish

Belive it or not, these four cocktail represented less than half of the cocktails presented at the Pisco Portón pairing dinner. The evening also saw cocktails from Kevin Mabry and his Tip of The Cap; Sam Karachi and his smoky The Royal Hunt of The Sun; Noon Inthasuwan‘s inventive La Cosecha which featured purple corn foam; Troy Clarke‘s Terrior Expression carbonated using the Perlini Carbonated Cocktail System; and, Josh Taylor‘s Turning Red which brought together Portón, sherry, and apricot into a fantastic finishing cocktail.

Pisco is an emerging spirit and this pairing dinner gave a glimpse at its potential beyond the classic pisco sour: not as a replacement for other white spirits, but in a universe of its own, capturing the wonderful flavors and aromatics that are unique to this grape-based spirit.