Punch-Drunk Love

Your spirit guide to a wealth of new piscos

San Francisco hasn't had this much pisco hitting our shores since the Gold Rush.

To help navigate the spirit's world, pick up local author Gregory Dicum's new guide, The Pisco Book ($24).

The handbook demystifies the potent grape brandy, focusing on the four categories of Peruvian pisco. These piscos are pot-distilled and rested in a nonreactive vessel before bottling. Many Chilean piscos, by contrast, are column-distilled and briefly aged in wood.

Puro Peruvian pisco is made from one of four nonaromatic grape varieties, while Aromatico pisco is made from one of four varietals categorized as aromatic. A server and bartender at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana have recently imported bottles of the surprisingly soft Huamani brand, a puro made from Quebranta grapes. You can sample it at La Mar or at Poquito in the Dogpatch.

Acholado piscos are made from a blend of grapes, usually aromatic and nonaromatic, and are ideal for cocktails. The recently released Piscología brand is zesty and light-bodied. Try it at Pisco Latin Lounge in an Aperol-pomegranate cocktail called La Rosa.

Mosto Verde pisco is made from grapes that have not been fully fermented before distillation. The resulting spirit has a rich body and a long finish, and is best appreciated solo. Pisco Portón, a new acholado mosto verde, is being poured at Farallon and Cantina.