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Women’s History Month Honors Macchu Pisco CEO: Melanie Asher’s Meditation on Her Mindful Distillation & Career ~ Interview with Ladies Who Lunch Conversations

Melanie da Trindade-Asher

CEO, Founder, Master Distiller, Macchu Pisco, 

Featured Guest: Ladies Who Lunch Conversations 


In retrospect, it’s rather cosmic that I met Melanie Asher at a “Star Chefs” food event in Brooklyn. There, I met a true “star” of the burgeoning cocktail culture,  who was in fact, a pioneer leading the way. I was writing for the Examiner then, covering the radical food and drink world in New York City. It was an exciting time. So many new possibilities. And opportunities…Then, as now, Melanie triumphs. Hence, I was over the moon that she agreed to be a special guest on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations, to share her career journey (so far) and meditations on life.  Just in time for Women’s History Month, I honor Melanie and highlight her special contributions to our world. And I offer a delightful Pisco cocktail recipe to enjoy while you read ~ and watch the Conversation!


I was so impressed with Melanie’s origin story ~ a young, female entrepreneur who conceived of Macchu Pisco, a spirits company based on the national drink of her birthplace, Peru, and her grandmother’s recipe; the world’s first female pisco distiller, and of course, tasting her craft pisco (it was my first-ever pisco!), I was charmed. 

I couldn’t help but think hers is a classic American success story.  

Despite the rather brief press interview, I think we both felt like we were getting reacquainted with a long-lost friend! Melanie’s welcoming charm is contagious.   Soon, the two of us were visiting Gotham restaurants where Melanie was conducting her Pisco demos ~ at Flatiron Lounge the legendary craft cocktail temple where we met up with the inimitable, darling sabrina, Jessica Wohlers, who soon became a kind of trinity to our duo.   And there was ABC Kitchen and a late, delicious cocktail adventure to the iconic cocktail bar, Pouring Ribbons. (Please don’t shutter your doors!) 

These drinks are one of my enduringly favorite cocktail images from Pouring Ribbons. Oh, the glow…. 

Later, I learned of Melanie’s deep, devoted connection to family. Her business is built in collaboration with and encouragement from her sister, Lizzie, the company’s President; the support of her mother and late father; and the mantra of her 100+ year-old grandmother that a nip of pisco every night is what has kept her young. Melanie and Lizzie’s abuela passed from this life recently at the incredible age of 102! You can still see her beautiful visage on every bottle of Macchu Pisco’s award-winning La Diablada Pisco.

LaDiablada - Twitter Search / Twitter

“Up until she died, my grandmother tasted every blend of our ultra-premium line, La Diablada, before we officially bottled it,” says Melanie, who founded Macchu Pisco in 2004. 

I am blessed to have met Melanie’s gorgeous mother and sister Lizzie. 

I wish I could have met the “Amazing Amelia.” But I do toast Amelia with every La Diablada cocktail. She’s the angel to the struggle between good and evil ~ the legendary fight between angels and demons.   

I think you’ll agree, these “spirit sisters” are incredibly dynamic. A one-two punch of talent and heart.


Over time, Melanie and I talked spirits, cocktails, and most of all, how Melanie ~ a woman in what was by and large a man’s business ~ built an award-winning, successful enterprise. 

Melanie is a mindful, philanthropic, generous, and fun businesswoman!  

She and Lizze helped me greatly when I was writing my book, The Art of the Garnish, introducing me to world-class mixologists in Miami and London. I am forever grateful for their abundant kindness and networking.  


Over the years, I find that I am always learning something new from Melanie. She’s motivated; always looking to find a better way to do things. And she is undoubtedly, so very generous. Her enthusiastic support is downright infectious; helping numerous causes and businesses… 

You can readily understand that I wanted to share this special woman’s story with my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations audience. 

I was over the moon when she agreed to be a guest. Not surprisingly, the challenge was scheduling as she has a rather overextended calendar – ~ even during the covid crisis. 

We almost did the show from Spain where she was exploring and researching something new for her enterprise. I told you she was a woman on the move! 

In the end, we did it. I promise, you will enjoy our Conversation ~ at Ladies Who Lunch Conversations, (Facebook.) 

You will learn of Melanie’s commitment to her mindful distillation process. 

This devotion and commitment to Macchu Pisco’s artisanal spirit makes it unparalleled. This almost meditative ritual is just incredible. Watch Melanie describe how it’s done and why she’s on-site to manage.  She will also wow you with her knowledge of chemistry and prowess in exciting the liquid’s molecules. It is as impressive as it is sexy! 

You will also learn about the origins of pisco.  It’s a fascinating story and once you hear Melanie tell the tale, you will have a fabulous happy-hour conversation that is sure to impress your family and friends.  Teaser: Pisco means bird in Quechua, the language of the Incas. Old settlers stored alcoholic drinks in containers called Piskos, which were later also used by Spaniards. There is also something about the flamingos you will enjoy.

And another chic gem is when I told her I put the jewel they feature on their La Diablada bottles on my houseplants when we finish a bottle. She told me it’s a seed! Kismet.  Listen for the full story. I love it.

Prior to 2006, when Melanie first introduced Macchu Pisco to the North American market, the pisco category was small and little-known to the American consumer. Armed with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and experience working with large spirits firms, Melanie recognized that the country’s rapidly growing interest in cocktails and the wide world of artisanal spirits set the stage for introducing a pisco that would exemplify her homeland’s national spirit and help launch the category in the U.S. 

Melanie intuitively recognized that success in her endeavor would be linked to not only creating a delicious product, but doing so authentically and responsibly. She proceeded to design a vertically integrated company from start to finish, ensuring she had control over taste, quality, and value at each step of the production process. Right from the beginning, Melanie insisted on paying fair wages to the women who harvested the grape crops, which set a precedent for progress in farm-work standards in Peru. “We were definitely met with resistance from other companies that purchased the grapes—they were trying to keep costs down by paying little to laborers,” Melanie says. “We simply wanted to make sure we were creating jobs that allowed people a real quality of life—and producing a pisco that we are all proud of.” Watch Ladies Who Lunch Conversations and you’ll learn how the company has pivoted to working with organic grape growers.

In recognition of her impact in promoting Peruvian culture, Melanie has been appointed to the Global Council on Gastronomy, the only pisco producer to have this honor. the Peruvian Embassy’s 2013 “Peruvian Woman of the Year in the U.S. 

She is actively involved in organizations promoting fair trade in her home country and Latin American women in business.  Due to all her ground-breaking work and commitment, Melanie was named the Pioneer of the Year in 2015 and was inducted into the Dame Hall of Fame at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

For almost half the year, Melanie lives and works in Lima, Peru, overseeing harvest and production at the distillery. The rest of the year, she’s either in the States or traveling the globe, introducing more cocktail enthusiasts to the joy of drinking pisco.

I’m head over heels about Macchu Pisco and have included more than a few craft cocktails featured by the incredible mixologists I chose to feature in my book, The Art of the Garnish. I also drink copious amounts of this magic elixir in every season. It plays well with all kinds of juices and spice.

Recently, I was asked to create some signature cocktails for a young couple for their wedding. One of the drinks was a Macchu Pisco special, “Pisco Passion Pumpkin Spice.”  (Autumn is the couple’s favorite season and they planned a fall nuptial.) 

The drink was a huge success. Melanie thought so too. After all, pisco is sooo much more than pisco.  

And a pinch-me moment was when I saw a cocktail aficionado on Instagram make & post the cocktail after I’d shared on social media ~ with credit to moi ~ @Garden_Glamour  ~ How sweet!

I hope you can shake up a few Pisco Passion cocktails and watch the inspiring, engaging, and fun Conversation with Melanie. And yours truly.  Thank you/Gracias, Melanie.  Salud ~ Cheers to continuing success.  Recipe below. 

Pisco Passion Pumpkin Spice  

Ingredients (for one): 

  • ¼ in piece fresh ginger

  • 2 oz ~ 2 jiggers Macchu Pisco

  • 1 jigger cinnamon simple syrup

  • ½ oz ~ ½ jigger pineapple juice

  • ½ oz ~ ½ jigger lime juice

  • Shake of Pumpkin Spice


Muddle ginger in cocktail shaker; add all other ingredients

Pour over ice


Rim glass with lime, then dip into grated cinnamon  

Shake of Pumpkin Spice on top in glass

Cinnamon Stick in glass 

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