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Pisco Latin Lounge: Where Cocktails Rule the Roost

The fact that Destino owner and executive chef James Schenk opened a Pisco lounge in a former Laundromat next door to his eight-year-old restaurant isn’t a surprise—we’re only wondering what took him so long. But given that San Francisco is experiencing a sudden resurgence of all things Peruvian, perhaps the timing is just right. Says Schenk, “Gin made a comeback. Small-batch vodka is available. Cachaça, bourbon—they’ve all experienced newfound popularity. Now it’s Pisco’s turn.” Pisco Latin Lounge carries some 15 varieties of the high-proof spirit, for sipping straight or in mixed cocktails (including one standout, the Sideways Sour, which combines Pisco, white-grape juice and lemon, served over ice with a float of Pinot Noir). Other spirits are available, of course, along with bar snacks, the best of which is a bowl of Cuban-style sweet, slow-braised pork known as ropa vieja del pastor. But let’s not kid ourselves—if we wanted a full meal, we’d head next door to Destino. Here, it’s the cocktails that rule the roost.