The art of the cocktail is something expert sommelier and mixologist Lucas Paya takes seriously. And nowhere does he take his craft as seriously as with his signature pisco sour.
Paya is the Wine Director for José Andrés´ ThinkFoodGroup, overseeing the wine program and cocktail menus at each of the Spanish star’s restaurants in Washington, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami. Paya is passionate about all things liquors and spirits, having previously developed the unique beverage program at Bar Centro at the Bazaar in the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills before assuming his new post as wine director. It’s rare that one of the most industry’s most recognized sommeliers would also be an expert behind the bar, but the Barcelona transplant doesn’t consider himself a triple-threat (you read that correctly: he actually started off his culinary career as a chef in Spain).
“What I’ve done is the natural evolution of my career because wine and cocktails are a passion of mine,” says Paya, whose wine recommendations appear regularly in publications like Wine from Spain News and Wine Spectator. “Drinking something beautiful can only enhance the pleasure of sitting down to eat something unique and special.”
Paya, who worked as a sommelier at El Bulli for nearly five years and was mentored by El Bulli owner Juli Soler before joining José Andrés in 2008, says he loves the idea of creating new beverage concepts and pairings with Andres. His approach to wine and food was cultivated by his family, who in the true Spanish style, raised him to pay particular attention to each subtle nuance of the dining experience.
“I remember my parents speaking about the chefs, the wine, the grapes, a particular dish,” recalls the 36-year-old. “With that I think I realized that even something like a drink can introduce an experience.”
Born out of his background, attention to detail and passion for exuberant flavor, comes Paya’s favorite cocktail: the pisco sour. A popular choice at Bazaar, it’s a drink that captured the attention of the well-heeled in Los Angeles and is a cocktail that emphasizes the herbaceous notes of the Peruvian wine grape spirit with the addition of frothy egg whites and citrus.
Paya calls it “sweet and tart, absolutely remarkable and perfect for any time of day.” And if there’s one thing Paya prides himself on, it’s the knowledge of how a perfect technique and prime ingredients can produce something special. After all, that’s the Spanish way.
2 ounces Pisco 100
⅜ ounce lemon juice
⅜ ounce lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
1 fresh egg white
Preparation: In a pint glass, combine all ingredients except ice, and dry shake to emulsify. Add ice and cold shake. Strain into cocktail glass. Top with quick line of Angostura bitters (3 drops) and create zigzag or star pattern with bar spoon.