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If you watch TV or read magazines, you get a pretty steady barrage of booze advertising pushing beers, vodkas, tequilas, whiskeys, and gins. It's enough to distract you from your other options—and to make you forget that you can occasionally pick none of the above.
Pisco is one of those other options, one that's easy to forget since it's not a big player here in the US, despite being the object of great national pride in Peru and Chile. But it's a spirit worth coming back to: it's really good-tasting stuff, with a history that goes back hundreds of years.
Spanish colonists found that Peru and Chile were good places to grow wine grapes, and soon locals began distilling pisco—a type of brandy—from the wines they made. When you taste the spirit, you'll notice that the flavors vary depending on the types of grapes in the blend, and maybe even where they were farmed, just like you would with wine.
Pisco is especially delicious in a light cocktail like this easy brunch drink inspired by the extra-flavorful grapefruits that are at their peak this time of year. To double up on grapefruit flavor, you'll use both the juice and the zest, steeped in an easy simple syrup. I use a Peruvian pisco, Encanto, which is made from blend of several grape varieties, and has a herbaceous quality that's perfect for pairing with the tangy citrus and a little thyme.
No one wants to be running around with cocktail shakers when you have friends over for brunch, so I worked out a method that eases last-minute stress. You'll batch the drink ahead of time and keep it sealed in a carafe or swing-top bottle until ready to serve. A little lime juice perks up the flavor and the fresh herbs offer a hint of savory flavor that flatters your hearty brunch spread.