Juices, cocktails and refrescos

Juices, cocktails and refrescos

By
David Ponté, Lizzy Barber & Jamie Barber
Contains
16 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493741
Photographer
Martin Poole

With more than 120 different fruits native to its rainforests, it’s no wonder that Brasil is teeming with fresh fruit juice bars. You find them on every street corner in Rio, their doors flung wide open on to the streets as Cariocas (natives of Rio) line the long counters, asking for myriad combinations of fruits in their sucos (juices) or vitaminas (thickened fruit shakes). Of course, once the sun goes down on Ipanema, these fruits play an even more important role in cocktails laced with cachaça, muddled with plenty of lime and sprinkled with cane sugar. Try these recipes from behind the bar at Cabana, or have a go at creating your own with any fruit you like.

Drinks tips and tricks

Vanilla sugar: You can buy vanilla sugar in supermarkets, but it’s really easy to make it yourself: just put a couple of lightly bruised or scraped-out vanilla pods in a jar of sugar and leave to infuse for a few days.

Cracked ice: The weather is so hot in Brasil that crushed ice melts too quickly, so it’s traditional to use cracked ice instead. For a truly authentic cocktail, you can make cracked ice by placing a handful of ice cubes in a clean plastic bag and bashing them into chunks using a rolling pin. You could also use a pestle and mortar or an ice cracker.

Gomme syrup and simple syrup: Gomme syrup is a sweetener that’s often used in bars and restaurants to make alcoholic cocktails, as it gives drinks a silky texture. At home, it can easily be substituted with a simple sugar syrup made from equal quantities of sugar and water heated over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Strawberry purée: To make your own strawberry purée, whizz a punnet of hulled and roughly chopped strawberries in a small blender. You can freeze it in an ice cube tray and use it when needed to make cocktails and smoothies.

Your caipirinha kit

Fancy becoming a caipirinha master? Here are the tools you’ll need to perfect your skills:

–A shot measurer: Because you can have too much of a good thing.

–A small serrated knife: To slice your limes thinly.

–A small wooden chopping board: For only the finest lime chopping.

–An ice cracker: Ice for a caipirinha should be in rough chunks rather than crushed. Use an ice cracker or a rolling pin. If you can’t find one, use a long metal spoon to crack your ice cubes into pieces.

–A durable base for muddling: So you won’t ruin your caipirinha by breaking the glass through over-vigorous muddling.

–A wooden muddler: To muddle your limes and sugar perfectly.

Cachaça: Drink it, or run your car on it

Say it with us now: cachaça. Ka–sha–sa. It’s the national drink of Brasil and the base of its best-known cocktail. Like rum, it’s a sugar cane spirit, but unlike rum it’s distilled directly from fermented sugar cane juice, rather than from the molasses (the syrupy by-product that’s created when sugar cane is turned into sugar).

Also like rum, cachaça comes in a variety of styles and characters, from the un-aged spirit to the more sophisticated, matured, artisanal product. The common ‘white’ cachaça was originally considered only a poor man’s drink, no better than hooch. It is often given the slang name pinga (from the Portuguese pingar, to drip, referring to the distillation process), and is a clear, strong spirit with a grassy flavour that’s perfect for mixing and cocktails. However, there has recently been a surge in the production of mature cachaça, which is aged in wooden barrels, is darker in colour and has more mellow flavours, such as cinnamon, vanilla and dried fruits. This can be sipped on its own and makes a great alternative to an after-dinner brandy or whisky.

A short time ago it would have been hard to get your hands on a bottle of cachaça unless you’d conveniently been on a trip to Brasil or Portugal. However, now that the spirit is gaining popularity, it should be simple to find brands such as Sagatiba, especially in larger supermarkets. If you’re at a loss or simply don’t like the taste of cachaça (some people can find it too rough or strong), you can always substitute vodka or rum – we won’t tell!

Oh, and Brasilians really do sometimes run their cars on it. If you’re ever crossing the road in Brasil and notice a waft of sweetness in the air, that’s the ethanol from sugar cane. That probably isn’t one to try at home…

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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