By Jano Tantongco
After a chance encounter with his cousin Woody in Singapore, Cold Spring Harbor native Charlie O’Connell shared his passion for the South American drink, Pisco. That conversation led to him stopping by his hometown to introduce his own take on the liquor, which he’s dubbed “Frísco.”
Pisco is an immature brandy brewed specifically in Peru or Chile. Frísco started with Muscat grapes from the Central Valley of California. The preparation is distilled twice in a copper still, then aged for one and a half months, with a slight charcoal mellowing at the end.
“What you end up with is a nicely, lightly flavored, slightly tropical, full-bodied and dangerously smooth product,” co-founder O’Connell, of San Francisco, said.
In college, O’Connell, a 1999 graduate of Cold Spring Harbor High School, studied abroad in Chile. There, he would go out on Wednesdays with his host brother with a liter of Pisco and two liters of Coke.
“I think the Coke cost more than the Pisco. It wasn’t great, but I fell in love with it,” O’Connell said.
Ever since, he was interested in importing the drink, but found that came with too many hurdles.
O’Connell eventually found himself in the finance sector, with his work eventually taking him to Singapore, where he lived for five years. After quitting his job, he took some time to think about his next steps.
That’s when he serendipitously met Woody, who happened to be a graduate of the University of California Davis wine program. With O’Connell’s assistance, Woody traveled to Peru to learn the process behind Pisco. Then, as O’Connell said, they went “full California” on it, eventually coming to perfect the blend that would become Frísco.
The liquor is on sale now at the Cold Spring Harbor Wine Shoppe on 84 Main St. For more information and recipes, visit Friscoliquor.com.