Master distiller and pisco ambassador Johnny Schuler.
While pisco — a spirit distilled from grapes typically grown at high elevations in Peru and Chile that has much in common with cognac — may not yet be a household word, it is fast garnering fans of mixed drinks who are thirsting for something different. Unaged, pisco is a white spirit and more readily found than the aged version, a brown reserve. Either form of pisco works well in mixed drinks — start with the standard pisco sour and wander on from there, either on the rocks or straight up.

In Peru, master distiller and pisco ambassador Johnny Schuler produces unaged white pisco for Portón at Hacienda La Caravedo, a state-of-the-art eco-friendly facility built into the oldest operating distillery in America, established in 1684. In the 35 years since he distilled his first batch of pisco, Schuler has been awarded a medal of honor by the Peruvian Congress for his skill as well as for promoting pisco awareness around the world.

While Peruvian pisco is derived from non-aromatic grapes, Chilean pisco is made primarily from aromatic grapes, mostly muscat, resulting in a more nuanced and complex brandy-like taste. The Kappa pisco brand is distilled by the same company that produces Grand Marnier and can be served up in many of the same ways as the traditional French liqueur.