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Pump up your pisco knowledge this fall

First, I have to apologize for being the worst blogger ever. It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, but I promise I have a good excuse. I’m hot off of a really busy, travel-filled summer full of boozy delights that I can’t wait to share with you over the coming weeks.

In June, I headed to the Dominican Republic and Haiti (Haiti, of all places! And it was fascinating) on a rum discovery trip. There’s more to come on this, but I learned about the challenges that small Caribbean distilleries are facing in the marketplace when up against the big boys, and was exposed to a whole new perspective on the world while touring Port au Prince, of the poorest cities in the world, and where the delightful Rhum Barbancourt is one of the biggest employers. Then I headed to the Bahamas on a family vacation, where I learned to love the Goombay Smash (a tropical drink recipe that involves rum, rum, and more rum on Green Turtle Cay, part of the Abacos). New Orleans was next up for the spirits industry conference Tales of the Cocktail. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with friends and gain insight into the year’s trends. In August, I took some much needed family time with my father and brother in San Francisco, bonding in cool new hot spots like Aatxe, the Cognac Room at Gaspar Brasserie, and Dirty Water.

Exhausted yet? That ain’t all…

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Jay and I dine at La Barra, famed chef Gaston Acurio’s lunch concept in the San Isidro neighborhood of Lima

By September, I was on my way to Peru – Lima and Ica to be exact – touring pisco distilleries including Pisco Porton. I’ve always loved pisco but experiencing the region in person really solidifies its true cultural contribution to the world. Like any other spirit, pisco represents a time, place and heritage. I recently wrote about the battle between Peru and Chile for pisco  for The Daily Beast. If you’ve ever wanted to know what pisco is about, definitely check it out! I also went on WJLA’s Let’s Talk Live to chat with the hosts about pisco basics. I also made them my absolute favorite cocktail, El Capitan. It’s a must for the fall and winter, so I’ve got you covered with a recipe below. The unaged grape brandy is so versatile it should really be a staple on your home bar.

My trip to Peru, which was alongside a couple other great writer friends, included time for dune buggying and sand boarding at Huachachina, a wildlife boat tour of Islas Ballestas, and Mistura, the world’s biggest food festival in Lima, where I met Joseph (see below). He was a masterful barbecuer of pork cooked in the Caja China.  My husband, Jay, met me at the end of the “work” portion. We did everything from fancy eating at chef Gaston Acurio’s La Barra and pisco sours at the gorgeous Lima Country Club, to having chicha and traditional Peruvian food in a converted garage. Afterward we went off to Peru’s Amazon jungle for a week off the grid, and looked forward to the cook’s excellent nightly pisco sours he made with the stash we brought. Whew!

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Joseph, the man responsible for the newfound Caja China obsession

The Caja China is a popular method of barbecuing pork in Peru

The Caja China is a popular method of barbecuing pork in Peru

Next up? Nicaragua to check out Flor de Cana rum (more rum! you can never get enough). Then I’m off to Doha, Qatar, where the U.S. Air Force base has hired me to lead a series of fun and engaging tastings and book signings. I’ll be touring the base with Mountain Faith Band from America’s Got Talent for a culminating Bourbon & Bluegrass shindig, where I’ve shake up a whiskey punch and hang with the men and women who are helping keep us safe in the Middle East. After that, since I’ll be so close, I’ll be trekking to northern India – it’s the Taj Mahal, Delhi bazaars and Himalayas for me (hey, a lady’s gotta live in the moment).

To document all this upcoming excitement, I’ve just started a Periscope account so please follow me @boozeforbabes and on Instagram for instant video updates!

Make the El Capitan

The best El Capitan ever can be found at the Belmond Miraflores Park in Lima

The best El Capitan ever can be found at the Belmond Miraflores Park in Lima

2 ounces high quality Peruvian pisco

1 ounce high quality sweet vermouth

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a coupe glass. Serve with an orange twist if desired. This recipe is also sometimes made with equal parts vermouth and pisco. Play with it to your tastes!

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