In early April, Mandolin bar manager John Anton hopped on a plane to Lima to meet up with seven other bartenders from across the country. Each had won a national cocktail contest sponsored by Campo de Encanto, the makers of an ancient Peruvian liquor called pisco. The prize was a trip to Peru to learn how the spirit is distilled. When the group stepped off the plane, they were immediately greeted by the owner of the company and a bottle of pisco. It was 4:30 a.m.
Pisco is an old drink, made in Peru since the 1600’s. It’s distilled from grapes instead of grains, and it’s traditionally aged in clay containers that impart no color. The result is a smooth, clear spirit that some liken to grappa. Similar to wine, Anton claims “you can really taste where it came from,” due to the quality that the grapes impart.