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Properly Sauced: The Cusco Cup

By Anthony Todd in Food on Aug 13, 2013 6:00PM

The Cusco Cup at La Sirena Clandestina

Pisco continues to make its appearance known on American bars. The South American brandy is usually seen as an ingredient in the classic Pisco Sour, but some Chicago bartenders are branching out to create more complex drinks with the fiery spirit. This one is from mixer Justin Anderson of La Sirena Clandestina, is named for one of the oldest cities in Peru, and is the jumping-off point for any trip to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.

This spicy, refreshing cocktail uses a turbinado-ginger syrup, which is easy to make at home. Simply combine turbinado sugar (or any brown, large-crystal sugar if you're in a pinch) with water in equal parts, throw in some chopped ginger and heat until you get a syrup. Then strain the whole thing into a jar.

The Cusco Cup

1.5 ounces Peruvian Pisco; La Sirena uses Macchu Pisco brand
.75 ounces lemon juice
.5 ounces Fernet Branca
.5 ounces turbinado-ginger syrup
.5 ounces cucumber water
1 ounce soda water

Combine the pisco, lemon, Fernet Branca, syrup and cucumber water in a shaker with plenty of ice. Shake to combine, then strain into a rocks glass over ice. Top with soda water and garnish with cucumber and/or a mint sprig.