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Cheers! A new (to Michigan) distilled spirit inspired by South America

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen of Tammy's Tastings with the Misco sour.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor Distilling Company has come up with a spirit inspired by pisco from Peru and Chile. The distillers call it Misco.

The distilled spirit pisco has become popular once again in the U.S. because of the craft cocktail movement. Chile and Peru are the countries of origin for pisco, however each country has its own versions.

So, what does that have to do with Michigan?

The folks at Ann Arbor Distilling Company have come up with a similar product, but because “pisco” is a protected name, they had to call it something else.

“It's a brand new kind of spirit for Michigan and they are calling it Misco,” said Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings.

In South America, pisco is made from grapes used for wine. Ann Arbor Distilling is using concord grapes, the same grape used for grape jelly and grape juice.

“It’s super aromatic,” Tammy said, adding, “So when you smell it, you're really going to get a lot of aroma, which you won't necessarily peg as grapes right away.”

It’s not sweet because it’s a distilled spirit. However, Tammy described a sip of it as almost a candy flavor. “Then it’s kind of got this really interesting middle palate with some funky notes and then a little bit of a hint of grape jam at the end. I just think it’s really, really intriguing,” Tammy said.

The quintessential cocktail made with pisco is the pisco sour. To put Misco to the test, Tammy mixed up a Misco sour.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
After garnishing the Misco sour with drops of Angostua bitters, drag a toothpick through them to create little hearts.

After sipping the Misco sour, you would not guess the spirit is made from Concord grapes, however at the end there’s a slight hint of that grape jam taste. It’s very subtle, but definitely sets the Misco sour apart from the pisco sour. It's very good.

Misco Sour

  • 2 oz Misco (or Pisco or other unaged grape brandy)
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Garnish: 5-7 drops Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients except garnish in shaker. Shake without ice for 10-15 seconds. Add ice and shake to chill. Strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with drops of Angostura Bitters.
Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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