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Last days of Pisco

This feature appeared in Metro on 25 November…

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Forget the Negroni, ditch the Aperol Spritz – the new drink du jour is the Pisco Sour. Velvet-y smooth, complex and bursting with citrus-y flavours, this grape brandy from Peru is taking the bar scene by storm since Martin Morales opened the UK’s first Pisco bar two years ago. “When we opened in 2012 we were the first Pisco bar in Europe and we only sell pisco – no gin, vodka or rum. Back then only 500 bottles of pisco were sold through restaurants and bars in the UK each year. Now, in 2014. it is 40,000,” says Morales.

Everyone from Kate Moss to Mario Testino has been spotted there sipping the new tequila, and with the growing trend for Peruvian food it was only a matter of time before Pisco began popping up at all the hippest parties.

“Pisco is the perfect drink because it has the soul of cognac, is as versatile as vodka, has the complexity of gin, the smoothness of tequila and as much history as whisky,” says Peruvian Pisco connoisseur José Francisco-Modonese, who is about to open London’s first private members’ Pisco bar, with a menu of rare Piscos and a Bolivian DJ spinning South American tracks till the sun comes up.

The trend is not just reserved to fashionable bars and clubs either. “The rise of the Pisco Sour has helped to drive sales of Pisco,” explains Guy Topping of drinks retailer Amathus. “The diversity of the fantastic grape spirit means that Pisco will be huge in 2015 – we now sell more Pisco than Cognac.”

So if you want to be in with the “it crowd” this party season, order a Pisco Sour.

Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina, who opened the first Pisco Bar in Europe in 2012
Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina, who opened the first Pisco Bar in Europe in 2012


This bijou 16-seat cocktail bar has only been open for a few weeks but already it’s making a big noise on the scene, combining Peruvian classics with British ingredients. With the feel of an eccentric, faded colonial home, you can expect home-infused Piscos with seasonal berries, herbs and fruits – try the Mama’s Pisco, a blend of Pisco, fresh raspberry, mint, orange juice, or the Piñamama, a pineapple-infused Pisco with Dead Rabbit Orinoco bitters, orange curaçao, maraschino cherry.

Pisco infusions line the bar at Andina
Pisco infusions line the bar at Andina


Peruvian Martin Morales was inspired by his native Andean cuisine to open London’s first Pisco bar in 2012, and he hasn’t looked back. His second super-hip eatery and basement bar, has jar upon jar of different Pisco infusions, including elderberry, cat’s claw, pineapple, chilli, and even cep mushroom. The Amantani – vanilla-infused Pisco, gin, goji berry and passion fruit juice – packs a superfood punch, and the Pisco moonshine four-shot special, four sipping shots of strawberry, plum, pineapple and blueberry Pisco, is a great way to test out the varieties.

The free Pisco Sour masterclass with bar manager Miguel Arbe on the first Wednesday of every month at 6pm, is a must!


A pisco sour from Andina
A pisco sour from Andina


With a bright, favela-chic interior, this Birmingham restaurant and bar has a South American flavour that runs to the killer cocktail list, which has eight different Pisco-tails. The Pepino – fresh cucumber, Pisco, pear syrup, elderflower and lime – is cool and refreshing.

pisco embassy jars

Pisco Embassy

London’s first late-night members-only Pisco bar will open from midnight till 5am every weekend and centres around a 12-strong cocktail menu of beautifully-prepared classic and rare Piscos, bespoke cocktails and home-made infusions such as physalis, kafir leaves, orange and citron, created by head bartender, Lima-born José Francisco-Modonese. He visits Peru during the Pisco harvesting and distilling months each year, touring the vineyards, bodegas and specialised Pisco bars to find inspiration and exchange new ideas and concepts to bring back to London.

A PIscoffee cocktail from Pisco Embassy
A PIscoffee cocktail from Pisco Embassy

Pisco Bar at LIMA Floral

This stylish new basement bar, that fits 30 people, offers an array of Peruvian-inspired cocktails including LIMA’s signature Pisco Sour made with Pisco, lime, sugar, egg white and Angostura bitter. You can also customise your Pisco Sour with a range of home-infused flavoured Piscos including rocoto pepper, huacatay herb (an Andean mint), orange and lemon peels, and rasisin and cinnamon. Or go upscale with an El Senor de Sipan – Prosecco, apple juice, raspberry syrup, Pisco, Campari and Pisco foam.

The Pisco bar at Lima Floral
The Pisco bar at Lima Floral


Above Audio

Brighton’s buzziest cocktail bar makes drinking a serious business, with a classy drinks list that’s as long as your arm. Their Pisco Sour combines the spirit with a simple base of sugar, lemon juice, bitters and orange zest, for a classic, grown-up take on the trend.

Lima pisco sour

Senor Ceviche

London’s hottest pop-up ceviche bar, which puts all its energy into serving the best ceviche and Pisco, and nothing else, has finally found a permanent home in Soho this month (and they’ve even broadened their menu a little). Owner Harry Edmeades went out to Pisco to source their house drink direct from the vineyard, and eight of the bar’s ten cocktails are Pisco-based. The freshly shaken Pisco Sour is still the signature drink.

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Black Dog Ballroom

Manchester’s New York-style speakeasy cocktail bar is championing the return of the Pisco Sour, which it describes as “one of the greatest drinks of all time, sadly lost to many of our generation.” The Little Bird is a tall cocktail of Pisco ABA, maraschino cherry liqueur, citrus, and ting (a fizzy Jamaican grapefruit juice), topped off with crème de mure.

Pisco Infusion (3)

Pisco Bar at Coya

Head barman Jun Narita has been mixing seasonally changing PIsco cocktails as well as home infusions since this Peruvian bar and restaurant opened two years ago. Try the latest Blackberry Pisco Sour or sign up for one of the Pisco masterclasses and learn to mix your own at home.


Las Iguanas

With three outposts in Bristol, and others around the country, this bright and breezy South American chain serves up a mean Pisco Sour using Pisco, triple sec and lemon juice, with egg white and bitters.


To see the original feature in Metro, visit 

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