This post is sponsored by the Trade Commission of Peru in Hong Kong
Two cocktail legends unite in Hong Kong to talk pisco.
During Hong Kong’s Pisco Nights campaign and ahead of their pisco masterclasses next month, DRiNK catches up with Taipei’s cocktail legend Aki Wang and King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff, as the pair unite to preach the good word of pisco.
Dale, this is the second consecutive year you are coming to Hong Kong to educate Asia about Pisco. What drives your passion for Peru’s national spirit?
Pisco is one of the great brandies with a DOC as distinctive as cognac, armagnac or calvados. There is no place on earth that makes grape brandy with the unique set of attributes that pisco has: a range of aromas that begins with flowers, develops with tropical fruit notes and finishes with an amazing minerality. Peru’s terroir – especially the lack of rain – makes the growing conditions unique, and allows the three yeasts that create the pisco flavour profile to grow and develop for the life of the grapes on the vine.
Pisco is still an up and coming spirit for the region. What advice would you give to bartenders in Asia when using it?
Aki: Pisco is definitely one of the more unusual white spirits, but I do love its unique elegance, fragrance, flavour and aroma. I often tell industry folks not to use too many ingredients, as there aren’t many that are better than pisco itself. I suggest making something easy rather than unusual, so consumers can learn how beautiful it is.
Many bartenders in Asia can have limited experience with pisco – what do you feel is the most important takeaway regarding working with it?
Dale: The takeaway is the range of companions that pisco has on the flavour spectrum. There are cocktail opportunities in the culinary and beverage world that make pisco the perfect match.
Aki, what’s one of your favourite pisco cocktails you’ve created?
45ml Pisco Quebranta30ml Bergamot puree
15ml Maple syrup
Potato and vanilla foam*
Crispy quinoa to garnish
Place all ingredients into tin with ice and shake. Strain the liquid into a rocks glass and top with potato and vanilla foam and a sprinkle of crispy quinoa.
Potato and vanilla foam: 600ml 84 degree squeezed raw potato juice; 50ml Vanilla syrup; 2 pieces of Typical Giledine. Chill then charge with one CO2 charger and one cream charger in a siphon.
Pisco seems to have a knack for bringing legends together. Aki, what can attendees expect from the masterclasses?
Aki: My dreams have come true to work with Dale. The very first professional cocktail book I owned was The Craft of Cocktails by Dale, so he’s inspired me since the beginning of my career and I’ve gained lots of of knowledge and techniques through him.I love the way he creates drinks – he knows exactly how to combine the most important flavours with cocktail history to give you an amazing cocktail.
We’ll definitely be giving attendees a look at the similarities in Eastern and Western philosophies when it comes to cocktails and spirits. They’ll also get to see two different generations of bartenders’ approach to pisco cocktails. It’ll be a cocktail symphony for all to enjoy!
Dale, you once hosted a pisco masterclass with Tony Abou-Ganim at Tales of the Cocktail, now you will host with a bartending icon in Asia. What are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to joining with Aki to share the liquid heritage of Peru that spans 400 years. It’s possibly one of the first spirits to come out of the new world and one that is a soulmate to the white spirits of the East.
Pisco Nights runs every weekend from July through September at various locations around Hong Kong. Find the list on the events section of the Pisco Nights Facebook page.
Dale and Aki’s masterclasses are invite only and will take place on August 16 at J.Boroski, the creative cocktail powerhouse, and August 17 at Ichu, Hong Kong’s preeminent Peruvian restaurant tied to world renowned Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez Veliz. Both classes run from 2.30pm onwards.