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My introduction to the Capitan

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I'm not sure if anyone has ever bothered to make it official, but it becomes obvious after ten minutes in about any Peruvian bar that pisco is the national spirit of Peru. Visitors will most likely first encounter the spirit in the pisco sour, which again, if not actually the national cocktail, appears on menus with sufficient ubiquity that one could be forgiven for thinking that it is. Unfortunately, the sticky sweetness of the pisco sour and its whipped-egg consistency do not appeal to me. [1] Quebranta and aromatic piscos on their own, give me a sharp, strongly alcoholic taste, like a dry brandy.

We've tried a few pisco drinks while in Cuzco, but my favorite so far is the Capitan, served to me last night by the bartenders at Chi Cha. Besides being an excellent restaurant (and I suspect that Pallavi will write more about this), Chi Cha boasts some of the friendliest bartenders that we have encountered in South America. They managed to overcome my poor-to-nonexistent Spanish and conversed with me, at length, about the various local ingredients to be found in their cocktails. They also gave me a quick primer on pisco (which admittedly I had to supplement later with some online research).

Better than that, they shared with me the Chi Cha recipe for the Capitan (which is slightly different from some I've seen online). It's essentially a pisco-based Manhattan, but with the taste of vermouth coming through more clearly. Not a drink for those deeply opposed to Cinzano (you know who you are), but one that I think I'm adding to my list of favorites.

  • Three oz. quebranta pisco
  • Two oz. red vermouth
  • One twist orange peel
  • One twist lime peel

Combine pisco and vermouth in a shaker with ice. Pour into cocktail glass. Twist orange peel into glass, coat rim. [2] Garnish with a twist of lime.

[1] About the only cocktail in this genus that I occasionally drink is the White Lady, and I admit that this may only be due to my fondness for the American Bar at the Savoy. In any event, a proper White Lady doesn't have egg white.

[2] I think a dash of bitters would also work here, if you're not feeling like professional-grade cocktail-making.

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2 Comments

Interesting that your instructions say "coat rim" two steps after pouring the cocktail in. I normally do it with the glass upside down in a saucer sprinkled with whatever it is (typically salt or sugar, depending on the drink). But this suggests there must be another - possibly better - way!

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