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New regular at the bar

You’ve seen pisco on practically every cocktail menu, but you don’t know the half of it. “Interest in pisco is surging like I’ve never seen it,” says James Schenk, owner of what he claims is the only dedicated pisco bar in the country, Pisco Latin Lounge (1817 Mission St., 415-874-9951), “People used to come into the bar and ask, ‘What’s pisco?’ Now they ask what brands we carry.” Stoking the flames are three new local purveyors: Kero California, based in Mill Valley, started importing two high-end piscos this year; Cleargrape, on Treasure Island, brings in a wide range of piscos from Viñas de Oro; and San Francisco locals Duggan McDonnell, Walter Moore, and Carlos Romero have created a new pisco, Campo de Encanto, that won the award for Best Pisco of Peru and has become a bar staple around town. San Francisco is also home to a host of pisco-pushing Peruvian cafés, such as La Mar (Pier 1½, 415-397-8880) and Fresca (3945 24th St., 415-695-0549). Then there’s the Pisco Society, at which pisco advocates get together, presumably to wax rhapsodic and discuss the finer points of the unaged aromatic brandy. Want to know more? Check out The Pisco Book, released in April, by local author Gregory Dicum. Indeed, the pisco buzz is just frenzied enough to warrant a midafternoon pisco punch, that classic cocktail invented right here in San Franpisco (as some are calling it) more than a century ago.