Kick in the Pisco

Before we talk about pisco I’d like to address the elephant in the room…  Who would win- Chuck or Daniel-san?  I think we all know it’s a pretty stupid question and it would be like placing Steve Urkel in a ring with Mike tyson- it’s like making a movie that pits Batman against Superman…

Moving on…

The grass is green, trees are blooming, and flowers are blossoming here in Missoula. Spring is here and there’s no better way to celebrate than sippin’ on a Kick in the Pisco.

This drink came about serendipitously behind the bar last year when one of the bosses asked for a shot.  I had just made a habañero maple syrup that day and was anxious to use it so I mixed in some pisco, lime, and St. Germain- The Kick in the Pisco was born.


Pisco grapes
courtesy of Pisco Porton

Pisco is a brandy.  It is distilled from fermented grape juice.  If I were to describe what it tastes like with a single word, I’d have to say, well, pisco.  It’s a little spicy, it’s a little sweet, it’s a little fruity-  it’s smooth and sharp.  It really has it’s own personality- with different moods, depending on where it’s made, and with what grapes it’s made with.

Pisco is only made in two countries- Chile and Peru.  There is a long standing debate between the two countries about who the mother of pisco is…  By most accounts, pisco was first made in the 1600s by the spaniards.  Peru achieved independence in 1821, Chile, in 1818.  So really, Peru and Chile are the step grandchildren of pisco. Most likely, the first whispers of independence in either country probably smelled of pisco.



One night at the bar, I made some shots with pisco for some young ladies.

“Wow! What was in that?” they asked.

I said, “Pisco and other stuff.”

“What’s pisco?”

“It’s a brandy made in South America,” I informed.

The conversation ended when one of them replied, “I thought mexicans only drank tequila.”

I almost opened my mouth to let her know that Mexico is not in South America and that being half mexican myself, her comment was slightly insulting.  Instead, I poured myself a shot of tequila and figured I would just let college do that for her.

The Kick


The kick in this cocktail comes from habañero maple syrup.   It is very easy to make and has a complexity that is indescribable- well almost- it really just tastes sweet and spicy.

You will need:

12 oz pure maple syrup (not that pancake sugar shit)

12 oz hot water

4 thinly sliced habañeros (seeds and all)

Combine all ingredients and stir.  Let it sit for 24 hours and strain the habañeros out. If you don’t plan on drinking this in one sitting add an ounce of your favorite high strength booze to the mix so it keeps longer.  It should stay good for a few weeks.  Or just make less- like a 3oz-3oz-1 habañero ratio.

*WARNING*  After handling habañeros wash your hands thoroughly.   Otherwise, the oils will be transferred to whatever you touch.  And the oils are HOT and they BURN! So don’t go rubbing your face, or your dog’s face, or your partner’s face, and definitely not your partner’s pisco!  (See what I did there- I used pisco in place of- well, you got it right?)

St. Germain

germain picker
a man who picks the flowers

st. germain

Ah, St. Germain.  A liqueur made of little starry flowers hand picked and bicycled down to the village to be turned into a luscious nectar.  Sounds charming, doesn’t it?  The following excerpt and photos are taken directly from the St. Germain website.



Descending the hillside, these diligent flower-gatherers carefully usher the umbrells of starry white flowers back to the village, often by bicycle. In just a few short weeks, all of the elderflowers that will become St‑Germain for that year will be harvested. And then… Fini. That is why each bottle of St‑Germain is individually numbered: to reflect the year in which the flowers were picked. St‑Germain is made in a slow, charmingly inefficient way, utilizing age-old French techniques. Hence, as a liqueur it is at once complex, pleasing and exceedingly rare. Neither passionfruit nor pear, grapefruit nor lemon, the sublime taste of St-Germain is a flavor as subtle and delicate as it is captivating.

germain chops
unloading the bicycle while pondering what Mother packed in his lunch

Amazing, right?  Just think, every time you have a cocktail with a splash of St. Germain in it you are not only tasting a wonderfully made liqueur, but you are tasting a true tradition, rich with integrity that has been in every bottle since their humble beginning… in 2007.  Can’t you just taste that old man’s love?
Gene Wilder and the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Now I know, you probably would like to visit this magical distillery, I would too.  But, they don’t allow visitors, and nobody really knows where the village is.  However, rumor has it that it is just down the road from another well known factory.


The Other St. Germain

St. Germain

While trolling the internet for images of the golden liqueur I ran into this guy who struck my fancy, St. Germain, who is “the Lord of the Seventh Ray, who is the Master of Alchemy.”  I don’t fully understand, but he is some sort of prophet who reincarnates himself and is responsible for stuff like- well, a whole bunch of shit.  Here is who he has been:  Ruler of a Golden-Age civilization, High Priest on Atlantis, Prophet Samuel, St. Joseph (Jesus’s father), St. Alban, Teacher of Proclus, Merlin, Roger Bacon, Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Bacon, and Le Comte de St. Germain, or “The Wonderman of Europe”.

If this guy is for real, then I am a firm believer that his current incarnation is this guy- my dad.

the man who fathered me

The Recipe



1 1/2 oz pisco

1/2 oz St. Germain

1/2 oz lemon/lime juice

2 teaspoons habañero maple syrup

Combine ingredients together, add ice, give a quick shake, and pour over a large rock. Garnish with a pretty flower.



One more thing…

When ordering a Kick in the Pisco be careful with your words.   A Kick in the Pisco will get you that golden adult beverage up there.  Ordering a Kick in My Pisco might get you something slightly different…

this man ordered the wrong cocktail




Recent Comments


  1. Kim
    August 27, 2015

    I tried Kick in the Pisco last week as my husband and I found ourselves in Missoula. It was remarkable! Awesome recipe. We had a great time at Plonk!

    • August 27, 2015

      Thanks so much for the comment! Glad you had a good time. You guys didn’t by chance order a “Kick in My Pisco” did you?

  2. hagendas
    April 26, 2015

    Good Lord! Who knew St. Germain was reincarnated in West Virginia in the 1940s? I think you forgot the disdain in the young ladies voices when they said ‘Mexicans” (it is Montana after all)…it was almost as if they were biting into a turd.

    • April 27, 2015

      I think it is a great cover for St. Germain. Also, instead of a carpenter (like St. Joseph), which was actually my dad’s mother’s surname, he came back as a machinist- a much more modern form of a carpenter. As for your mexican comment, I don’t think my mother will be too happy with you.

  3. Susana di Portanova
    April 26, 2015

    I’m going right into the house to mix up some of that Habanero Maple Syrup, mix it with some alcohol, then using it in fillings for chocolate. Maybe a Habanero Maple Syrup Whiskey (?) caramel. It’s uncanny how much your father looks like St. Germaine. Also, I am gifting you with the legendary name of my mythical cocktail, the “Malibu Barbie Speedball.” My version uses Bubblegum Schnapps -it’s a gateway cocktail. I would be honored if you would create a tasty cocktail with this name. The trick is, you cannot use any form of Red Bull, or Gatorade.

    • April 27, 2015

      Ms. Portanova, I will honor you well and dedicate the rest of my craft to the Malibu Barbie Speedball. Until then, I will wait anxiously for a wonderful batch of chocolates to arrive in my mailbox.