Cachaca ("ka-sha-sa"), the national spirit of Brazil, resembles rum but is made from the first pressing of fresh sugarcane juice instead of molasses. As such, cachaca has a rustic earthiness that makes for a wonderful base in many modern cocktails, the most famous of which is the Caipirinha.
Caipirinha de Uva
The Caipirinha ("kye-pur-een-yah") is Brazil's legendary cocktail and it's enjoyed all over the country. Uva is Portuguese for grape. Making this variation on the classic drink is even easier than saying the name: It's a simple mix of crushed lime, sugar, cachaca, ice, and semisweet wine (I prefer Gewürztraminer or Riesling), which adds a lovely grapey-ness and should appeal to wine lovers.
Chicken with Fresh Herbs and Sherry Wine Vinegar
Cachaca is BFF with fresh herbs, and the citrus acids hold up against the sharp sherry wine vinegar.
Chopped Veggie Salad with Watermelon and Feta
This was once a popular breakfast staple in Israel. The lime and grape flavors make for perfect lunch partners with the watermelon.
Bartender John Deragon created this simple and extremely refreshing highball at the New York speakeasy PDT in the East Village. Lillet, a light and fragrant fortified wine from France, gives the drink a lovely and elegant floral note, while the lime juice is the ultimate thirst-quencher.
Grilled Oregano Shrimp
This simple appetizer is brimming with pungent aromas of charred oregano, an herb that flourishes against the floral Lillet and earthy cachaca.
Fried Mozzarella with Arugula and Prosciutto
The high acid and citrus notes from the Limonata cut through the fattiness in the oil as well as the saltiness in the prosciutto. Ideal with a late brunch.
This is my own summer variation on a classic Sangria. It's invigorating but much richer than any traditional version because I add semisweet white wine. This drink also has Pisco, a clear Peruvian brandy, and the gorgeous St. Germain elderflower liqueur, a product taking the cocktail world by storm. The recipe below is designed for a single serving, but it could easily be made in large quantities for a punch bowl.
Shrimp Skewers with Tzatziki, Spinach, and Feta
Cabernet's fruitiness and mouth-puckering tannins always match a bloody steak; the wine's chalkiness also works with the creamy cheese.
Goat Cheese With Olives, Lemon And Thyme
What could be more regionally appropriate with Sangria than olives and cheese? The olives bring out the savory nature of the cucumber, sage, and thyme.
Try this instead of a Mimosa: It's a light and cooling sparkling cocktail, perfect for a long and lazy Sunday brunch or a balmy evening by the BBQ. Or both. Apple, lime, and mint don't often make it to the same cocktail shaker, but here the combo works. Add a quality bubbly (Cava would be nice), and you get a very balanced, complex drink.
Poached Eggs and Parmesan Cheese Over Toasted Brioche with Pistou
The dry Champagne will cut through the saltiness of the Parmesan and the herbal notes in the pistou.
Champagne always works with seafood because it has enough acid to cut through the brininess and is a lovely foil to the richness of crab meat.
Carioca is slang for a native of Rio de Janeiro, and this variation on the classic Bloody Mary cocktail uses Brazil's local hooch as a base. The cachaca gives it a bite, while the addition of passion fruit (a local favorite in Brazil) adds a touch of zing. Note: Too many Bloody Marys are overly thick; this recipe really thins it out and livens it up.
Grilled Steak Sandwiches with Marinated Watercress, Onion, and Tomato Salad.
The sharpness of the raw onion and watercress stands up to the meaty sauces and spices in the drink.
Grilled Halibut with Grilled Red Pepper Harissa
The spice in the drink and the spice from the harissa paste work well together. heck, you could even add some harissa to the cocktail.
Text by Naren Young, photos by Steven Torres
Naren Young is a widely traveled drinks writer who has written for many publications in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Germany, including GQ, Gourmet Traveler, Sante,and Cheers. He was the editor in chief of Australian Bartender Magazine, and now travels extensively researching and writing about the great spirits and cocktails of the world. He also runs the bar at New York 's Bobo restaurant.
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