Peru and Chile have famously fought over the right to call pisco—the fiery, grappa-like spirit—their own. Now the debate is being played out in North America, as both countries are sending more (and better) pisco to the U.S. each year. Many bartenders still use oak-aged Chilean pisco, but the grapey, unoaked flavors of Peruvian pisco are more appealing. It’s made in two styles: puro, distilled from a single grape variety, and acholado, a blend of two or more varieties. Both are ideal for summer cocktails, like the three drinks below.
This blended style is best for the pisco sour, said to be invented in California then sent to Peru. Top Pick La Diablada ($38), a blend of Italia, Quebranta and Moscatel grapes, has sweet, spicy fruit notes and a long finish.
With their floral scent and delicate fruit flavors, piscos made from the Italia grape are great in light citrus cocktails. Top Pick Barsol Italia ($20) shows elegant balance, with layers of tropical fruit flavors.