Cocktails inspired by beaches of Brazil

  • By Jan Roberts-Dominguez
  • Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:31am
  • Life

When Kathy — my brother’s sister-in-law — got an unscheduled layover in Rio de Janeiro at the tail end of a business trip, she figured “what the hey!” and quality beach time ensued.

She came away from this sojourn with a new bikini and a few good stories centered on the country’s infamous firewater, Cachaca.

Cachaca’s an 80 proof distillate, made from unrefined sugarcane, which some people call classify as Brazilian rum, even though it’s not, strictly speaking.

On my palate, it swings strongly toward tequila with a Marlborough chaser. Potent stuff.

And yet, when united with freshly squeezed limes, superfine sugar and lots of ice, it’s transformed into the most amazing refresher.

We all benefitted from Kathy’s excellent adventure at that year’s Christmas gathering. After several heated rounds of our favorite group game, “Cranium,” we were all suffering an extreme thirst. In response, Kathy slipped into the kitchen and mixed up a refreshing pitcher full of that cachaca-based beach drink, which is called Caipirinha.

I think fondly on the experience. Indeed, sharing a refreshing pitcher of fire water generates a communal sense of fun and anticipation. And talk about simple. Mixing up a batch in the preparty phase is an effortless and stylish way to entertain and still have fun at your own party.

After all, making individual cocktails not only takes time, but removes you from the action.

And turning other folks lose at your bar leads to chaos at best. At worst? A lot of inappropriate behavior centered around lamp shades.

This is the perfect time of year to explore one of the cocktail world’s more refreshing genre’s.

Although pitcher drinks don’t have to be fruit based (think Bloody Mary), these recipes are, so they’ll hit the spot in sultry weather. They’re all from my favorite go-to book on the subject, “The Ultimate Guide To Pitcher Drinks — Cool Cocktails for a Crowd,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

It’s been in print for over 14 years, so you know the recipes are reliable (and wonderful!).

My one tip to pass along is the idea that you don’t have to actually store your prepared pitcher drinks in a pitcher until the party begins.

I always pour the mixture into an empty 1.5 liter plastic water bottle with a screw-on cap so you can tuck the mixture into any corner of your refrigerator while its chilling.

On a sweltering day, the limey sweet-tart taste of Brazil’s national drink is downright addictive.

The Caipirinha’s smooth flavor belies its potency, for this seductive sipper is made with Cachaca, Brazil’s sugarcane firewater.

Caipirinhas are made either by muddling lime wedges and sugar in a shaker, adding cachaca and ice, and shaking like crazy, or by muddling lime and sugar in a glass, then topping with crushed ice and cachaca.

Naturally, for this pitcher-drink version, we’re doing it differently — squeezing the limes.

And for a more complex flavor, I use cane syrup instead of sugar, a trick learned from my pal Cindy Pawlcyn, the Napa Valley restaurateur icon (Mustards Grill, Miramonte, and previously Fog City Diner and others).

Less of the pure cane syrup is needed because its more concentrated than the mock cane syrup. If you don’t use either store-bought or homemade syrup (big mistake!), substitute 2/3 to 1 1/3 cups superfine sugar, stirring well to dissolve.

One last thing: Don’t forget to suck on the lime wedges that’ve soaked for hours in the cachaca mixture — they’re fully loaded and incredibly refreshing.

Caipirinha (kuy-per-reen-yuh)

10 medium to large limes, washed and quartered

21/2 cups (20 ounces) cachaca

1 cup (8 ounces) pure can syrup or 11/4 cups (10 ounces) Mock Cane Syrup (recipe follows)

1/3 cup (scant 3 ounces) water

If you’re making the Mock Cane Syrup, do it first. Squeeze the juice from the lime quarters into a pitcher that holds at least 50 ounces; drop the squeezed fruit into the pitcher as well. Don’t knock yourself out to extract all of the lime juice — a brief squeeze will do. Add cachaca, cane syrup, and water; stir briskly. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Fill 12-ounce double oldfashioned glasses almost full with crushed ice. Add 3 to 4 of the squeezed lime quarters to each glass; top with drink mixture. Serve with straws if desired.

MOCK CANE SYRUP: In a small saucepan, heat 3/4 cup (6 ounces) water just until simmering. Remove from heat; add 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/3 cup superfine sugar, and 1 teaspoon dark molasses, stirring until dissolved. If you’re making this at the last minute and don’t have time to let it cool: combine 1/4 cup of the water with the brown sugar. Heat until water bubbles. Remove from heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Add remaining 1/2 cup cold water, superfine sugar, and molasses; stir to dissolve sugar.

Makes 10 4-ounce servings.

Recipe from “The Ultimate Guide To Pitcher Drinks — Cool Cocktails for a Crowd,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst

French Flirt

2 cups (16 ounces) Alize Gold Passion liqueur or other passion fruit liqueur

1/2 cup (4 ounces) Chambord

1/4 cup (2 ounces) Canton Delicate Ginger Liqueur

2 750-ml bottles (50.8 ounces) icy-cold brut Champagne

Garnish: 12 fresh raspberries plus 12 small edible flowers (optional)

Combine the passion fruit liqueur, Chambord, and Canton Delicate Ginger Liqueur in a pitcher that holds at least 80 ounces; stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Just before serving, slowly add Champagne, tilting the pitcher and pouring onto the pitcher’s side to retain as much effervescence as possible. Stir gently to combine. Pour into 7-ounce flutes or wineglasses; drop a raspberry into each serving. If desired, float an edible flower in each serving.

Makes 12 6-ounce servings.

Recipe from “The Ultimate Guide To Pitcher Drinks — Cool Cocktails for a Crowd,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Be careful of this one: It’s sweetly fruity but can hit you like a catagory-five hurricane! It was born in New Orleans’s French Quarter at Pat O’Brien’s bar and has become so popular that there’s now a Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane mix to which one simply adds rum and water. Even if you can find the mix, fresh is better in my book.

Passion fruit juice (also called passion fruit nectar) can be found in many supermarkets and natural food stores, as well as most liquor stores.

Many glassware stores carry special hurricane glasses (shaped like a hurricane lamp), but any tall glass will do.

Hurricane

2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) passion fruit juice or nectar

2 cups (16 ounces) dark rum

13/4 cups (14 ounces) light rum

13/4 cups (14 ounces) fresh orange juice

11/4 cups (10 ounces) fresh lime juice

31/2 tablespoons (13/4 ounces) grenadine syrup

Garnish: 10 maraschino cherries and 10 orange slices

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a pitcher that holds at least 85 ounces; stir well. Can be served immediately or covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. Fill 12-ounce tall glasses two-thirds full with ice cubes. Add drink mixture; garnish each serving with a cherry and orange slice skewered on a cocktail pick.

Southern Hurricane Variation: Substitute Southern Comfort for the light rum.

Makes 10 7.5 ounce servings.

Recipe from “The Ultimate Guide To Pitcher Drinks — Cool Cocktails for a Crowd,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst

A kick-back-and-relax summer refresher that’s equally wonderful when limeade is substituted for the pineapple juice. For an even more tropical flavor, use spiced rum for half the dark rum and creme de banana for the Licor 43.

Smooth Operator

4 cups (32 ounces) pineapple juice

21/2 cups (20 ounces) dark rum

1 cup (8 ounces) fresh lime juice

2/3 cup (scant 6 ounces) Licor 43

2/3 cup (scant 6 ounces) grenadine syrup

1/2 cup (4 ounces) water

3 tablespoons (1-1/2 ounces) thawed frozen orange juice concentrate

Garnish: 10 pineapple wedges and 10 orange slices

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a pitcher that holds at least 85 ounces; stir well. Can be served immediately or covered and refrigerated unti ready to serve. Fill 12-ounce tall glasses two-thirds full with ice cubes. Add drink mixture; garnish each serving with a pineapple wedge and orange slice skewered on a cocktail pick.

Makes 10 7.5 ounce servings.

Recipe from “The Ultimate Guide To Pitcher Drinks — Cool Cocktails for a Crowd,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a food writer, artist, and author of “Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit,” and four other cookbooks. Contact her at janrd@proaxis.com, or see her blog at www.janrd.com.

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