One of my blogosphere friends graciously created a birthday cocktail pour moi. If Gina lived in my neck of the woods I'd be hanging out on a barstool at her kitchen island all day long. I can just see her putzing around the kitchen whipping up goodies to munch on, pouring the never ending flow of wine, and I'd be drooling over her serving ware from her jaunts around the world. We'd chat and laugh and get all catty while brushing crumbs from our chins. My daydream also includes Jennifer, who'd be tag teaming in the kitchen with Gina. I'd just wear elastic waist pants and belly up to the breakfast bar.
So here you go, a guest post from Gina!
A gracious thank you to Gina for mustering up the energy to write this post from her sick bed. She's been battling a nasty case of bronchitis, coupled with an allergic reaction to her meds. Cheers to her being on the mend! Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!
I have the honor of being the guest blogger for Ilina’s birthday celebration. That in mind, this drink comes with wishes for another great year ahead. Should she wish to hide from her special day, this tasty beverage is certain to erase her memory when combined with laughter, friends, family and a bit of cake!
Three years ago, I met a young gal from Peru named Rosa. We became friends and through that friendship she introduced me to all things Peruvian. While the cuisine is amongst my favorites I must also confess that I have often indulged in the native alcohol -- pisco [prounced PEES-KO]. You should know, I have a soft spot for both Rosa and pisco. These two key instigators blended with my Italian heritage are responsible for this seemingly innocent concoction.
But like all bar drinks, this one must have an interesting story and that story rooted in the origins of pisco.
Pisco- Drinkology 101- facts to impress your friends while under the influence:
- Pisco is both a city and an important port on the Peruvian coast.
- The name originates from the Inca word for a ‘bird’
- Pisco is made from a special grape in the Andes Mountains and dates back to the 1500s
- It is a South American brandy-like liqueur distilled from grapes and is 45% alcohol
- Both Chile and Peru claim pisco as their national drink and are still fighting over who has sole ownership (Rosa says it is Peru that owns it!)
- Most common pisco drink is a pisco sour (but that’s a whole ‘nother story!)
In conclusion, pisco is some serious stuff.
Warning to Ilina: Do not let your Little Bird drink the drink named after The Bird – minors should avoid this (and all alcohol) drink but can enjoy the lemon syrup with a bit of 7UP or sparkling water.
(2 part liquid K.O.)
Lemon Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 strips of lemon zest (approx 2 lemons)
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest (or peel) off of lemons before juicing them as directed in the remainder of the drink recipe (called The Blur- see below).
In small saucepan, on medium-high heat mix together sugar, water and zest. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Let stand 20 minutes, until cool. Syrup can be refrigerated up to one week – and is also good over berry flavored sorbets.
¾ cup lemon simple syrup
¼ cup pisco (or ouzo), chilled
½ cup + 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
6 sprigs basil (or mint for the less adventurous)
Stir together the simple syrup, pisco (or ouzo), and the fresh lemon juice.
Fill six small glasses with ice, fill to the brim and add a sprig of basil.
I have a copy of Gina's cookbook, and it's a mainstay on my kitchen counter. I have yet to try a recipe that wasn't delicious and looked exactly like it does in the cookbook photo (minus the nice serving ware). To grab a copy of Gina’s book, which is less about traditional Italian dishes and more about brining good flavors to the table with not a lot of work, check out www.bowllicker.com
Gina von Esmarch was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a fourth generation San Franciscan, who’s family has successfully run one of the City’s oldest fine dining restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf — Alioto’s #8, founded in 1925. Gina now lives North of the Golden Gate Bridge with her husband, children and dog. In her free time she enjoys spending time around the table with her family and friends. You can follow her on Twitter: @ginavon