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On this edition of the NOLADrinks Show, we talk about an upcoming documentary film, “Pisco Punch – A Cocktail Comeback Story.” We interview Matthew Noel, one of the filmmakers, as well as Nathan Dalton of Catahoula Hotel in New Orleans, who is Pisco expert and figures prominently in the film.

NOLADrinks – 1-5-17 – Pisco Punch

We kick-off the show talking about how, in New Orleans, the end of the holiday season marks the beginning of Carnival season. Mardi Gras is coming February 28th this year, but the parades start on Friday, January 6 – Twelfth Night. We discuss the two parades – Krewe of Joan of Arc and Phorty Phunny Phellows – that kick things off.

Please note – we’ve learned that due to poor weather in New Orleans, the Krewe of Joan of Arc have postponed the parade until tomorrow (Saturday, January 7). We are not sure, as of yet, about Phorty Phunny Phellows. You can visit their websites, linked above, for more info and updates.

Pictured above from left – Nathan Dalton of the Catahoula Hotel, Matthew Noel of Pisco Punch, and Bryan Dias of NOLADrinks.

This week, we spent an afternoon and early evening in Houma, Louisiana (about an hour or so southwest of New Orleans) in the home of filmmaker, Mathew Noel. He and his wife Becky hosted us and the gang from Catahoula Hotel, a boutique space that boasts a Pisco-driven bar program and Peruvian food in their restaurant, for a private screening of the film.

Pisco Punch – A Cocktail Comeback Story” debuted a few weeks back at the Napa Valley Film Festival. Matthew and his partner in the project, Alan Kropf, set out to make a film about Pisco and the famed cocktail, the Pisco Punch. The drink was famous in the 19th century and had strong connections to San Francisco. However, the film and story they ended up with turned into something much greater – they touched on the heart and soul of a nation – Peru. The country is the home to Pisco and is synonymous, in many ways, with its culture.

We cover a bit about this unique beverage, how it’s made, where in Peru it’s grown, and more. Nathan Dalton, Food and Beverage Manager at the Catahoula Hotel, guides us through much of this discussion. We talk with Mathew and Nathan further about the movie, how it was made, and the story that was uncovered.

Peru experienced considerable upheaval beginning with the ill-fated agrarian reform of 1968. It resulted in the seizure and removal of many family vineyards that yielded the grapes used to make Pisco, nearly killing off its production. Pisco and Peru continued to suffer through the 80’s with the terrorism and political violence wrought by the Shining Path and others.

At left, we had the opportunity to taste the Barsol “Supremo Mosto Verde Torontel” Pisco, which is not currently available for sale in the United States.

However, it isn’t all dark days in Peru. The country is enjoying a revitalization and Pisco is along for the ride. The drink has been at the fore of the modern craft cocktail movement that started in the late 1990’s. The country’s cuisine is enjoying a similar lift around the world. Perhaps most importantly, the pride of the nation and its people has returned. Pisco is emblematic of this phenomenon.

At one point, two Catahoula bartenders, Sam Perez and Tristan Ferchl, join the show and discuss their love of Pisco and more about the bar program at the hotel. We close out this segment, again with Nathan and Matthew, and talk about next steps for the film and how it’s an important documentary to see – not just for those in the bartending/beverage world, but for anyone interested in Peru, history, culture, and politics.

We wrap up the show talking about some wine news connected with UC Davis and their enology program. We also mention a new cocktail recipe and history book – Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History – that takes a unique look at beverages in the early years of the United States.

Below the map that shows the Ica Valley of Peru (where Pisco is made) and the Catahoula Hotel in New Orleans, you can subscribe to, download, and stream the podcast below. Tell a friend!

Cheers, You All!