Top 10 Brazilian cocktails

A Batida is a mix of cachaça, fruit, ice and lots of sugar, and a favorite in the kiosks that line the Brazilian coast.

batida de maracujaBatidas
This mix of cachaça, fruit, ice and lots of sugar is a favorite in the kiosks that line the Brazilian coast. You name the fruit – maracujá (passion fruit), coco (coconut), morango (strawberry). In fact, caipirinha is just one more type of batida.

The batida (bah-chee-dah) is loosely translated as “beaten”: a cocktail that is either shaken hard or served as a frozen blender drink. They are almost always made with cachaça, fruit, milk, sugar and ice as a base mixture.
The place for the batida is not usually the hotel or fine bar, but rather a barraca (ba-ha-ka, a tent and mobile bar and/or restaurant) on the beach where you can order sodas, beer, beach chairs, iced coconuts etc…and of course a batida made from scratch.

Caipirinha: This is the most famous drink from Brazil and considered the national cocktail. Made with cachaça, sugar and lime juice, it can either be a refreshing cocktail or a strong one that might leave you regretting your purchase. Read our post about caipirinha.

Caipirinha, Caipiroska, Caipiríssima
These days, to order a caipirinha in a bar is no longer that easy. In the menus there are several types of caipirinha, which vary the fruit and alcoholic beverages used.
From a range of fruit, one can choose the traditional lemon, but also equally refreshing strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, passion fruit and orange fruit and even exotic or unusual ones, such as the Chinese lychee, and brasileiríssima jabuticaba. You can also mix different fruits by creating, for example, the red fruit caipirinha (composed of blackberry, strawberry and raspberry) or tropical caipirinha (consisting of pineapple, passion fruit, kiwi and strawberry). What about Caipirinha de Tangerina com Pimenta Dedo-de-moça (tangerine with chilipepper); Caipirinha de Limão c/Gengibre e Cravo (with ginger and cloves)?

After choosing the fruit, you need to define which alcohol is used in the preparation of the caipirinha. Besides the cachaça and aguardente, vodka is also famous as an ingredient in caipirinha, and nowadays it is common to find the Brazilian drink made ​​with sake or rum.

For those who got confused, we set up a beginners caipirinha dictionary:
Caipiríssima is a traditional caipirinha, but made with rum in stead of cachaça.
Caipiroska, also known as Caipivodka, is a traditional caipirinha, but made with vodka in stead of cachaça.
Caipinheger, is a traditional caipirinha, but made with Steinhäger in stead of cachaça.
Saquerinha, is a traditional caipirinha, but made with sake in stead of cachaça.
Caipivinho, is a traditional caipirinha, but made with wine in stead of cachaça.
Caipirão, is a traditional caipirinha, but made with Licor Beirão in stead of cachaça.
Caipirango, is a traditional caipirinha, but made with strawberry in stead of lime.

Caju Amigo: “The Friendly Cashew” combines two of Brazil’s favorite flavors. It is a mixture of cachaça with juice from a cashew nut. Every now and again you can find bars that have a must more entertaining method, which involves chewing a cashew, keeping it in your mouth and then swallowing it with a shot of cachaça.

A famous cocktail of the northeast is the Capeta (=little devil). At least it is famous in Brazil. A mixture of cachaça, sweetened condensed milk, guaraná, cinnamon, honey, and Nesquik. The guarana (a berry from the amazon) is a stimulant containing caffeine and is also the base for a very popular soft drink by the same name.

Leite de Onça: “Jaguar Milk” again made with cachaça, it is a combined with milk and served cold. It is usually served in a mug without any garnish so it can easily be mistaken for a mug of normal milk (is that why the kids are always so happy in Brazil).

Aluá : There are several recipes for this drink popular in the Northeast states (Bahia, Ceará and Pernambuco, among others), that may or not be alcoholic. You mix one pinapple´s peel, two litters of water, brown sugar, cloves and grated ginger. The skin of the pineapple should be kept in water for a whole night to get fermented. The longer it remains in water, the more alcoholic the beverage. This water is strained and mixed to the other ingredients.

More to follow.

Top 10 Brazilian snacks: Salgadinhos

Salgadinhos are small snacks with a savory filling, found in nearly all lanchonetes and padarias in Brazil. Brazilians eat it at any time of the day and salgadinhos are very popular at parties.

A banana-leaf-steamed Acaraje.
Black-eye pea cake deep fried in palm oil, then filled with dried shrimp topped with coconut, cashews, garlic, more shrimp and hot pepper sauce.
Bolinho de Bacalhau
Cod fish cake in ball format.
Bolinho de Aipim
Deep-fried cassava dough with a ground beef center.
Bolinho de Estudante
A dry tapioca pressed into shape, grilled then rolled in cinamon sugar.
Cachorro Quente
A variation of the hotdog: bread, hot dog link, tomato paste with onions and peppers, then optionals: corn, string potatoes, parmesan.
Deep fried dough filled with doce de leite. Then rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Spiced chicken rolled in manioc dough and then fried. There is also version with a drumstick.
Empada or empadinha is a small pie, which has various fillings such as carne (meat), palmito (palm heart), cheese and camarao (shrimp)
A tri-folded pizza of Arabic origin – savory pastry stuffed with spiced meat
Misto Quente
Ham and cheese sandwich, made with stringy mozzarella.
Arabic snack made from deep fried whole-wheat surrounding a spicy ground beef center.
Pao de Queijo
Savory cheese puffs that goes perfectly with coffee.
Pastel de Carne
Fried, filled pasty.
Pastel de Forno
Oven baked folded pie with various flavor fillings.
Double cheeseburger with: bacon, fried egg, sausage, pulled chicken, string potatoes, etc.



The name caipirinha (pronounced => kai-pee-reen-yah –– with the r slightly trilled) is derived from the Portuguese word caipira (hick, hayseed, country bumpkin, rube, etc.––essentially a Li’l Abner type) coupled with the -inha suffix (a diminutive denoting little or small) and can be variously translated as little hick, little hayseed, little country bumpkin, little rube, etc., etc. Again, like the word cachaça, there really is no translation for caipirinha (the drink) except caipirinha … unless you prefer to call it a little hick, little hayseed, little country bumpkin, little rube, etc.. But most people would rather drink one that get hung up on the name. Cachaça is also the primary ingredient in numerous batidas (cachaça and fruit/fruit juice mixtures).

Nobody knows for sure exactly who made the first caipirinha or when. Many older Brazilians claim that the caipirinha was originally a folk remedy used to help alleviate the symptoms of colds and the flu and to soothe sore throats. Even today, many Brazilians are known to create a concoction of lime juice, cachaça and honey as a remedy for colds and flu. The use of ice is most certainly a modern innovation. We can only speculate that the use of sugar (or honey) that is one of bed rocks of the caipirinha was used to help the cachaça go down a little smoother because, after all, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down …”

There is an old adage in Brazil: quanto pior a cachaça, melhor a caipirinha––the worse the cachaça, the better the caipirinha. Consequently, most “experts” believe it’s best to use clear colored (white), non aged cachaça, essentially, the cheapest available. We agree! Therefore, the popular (and usually more readily available) Pitú, 51 or Ypioca brands are perfect for making a world class caipirinha.

A caipirinha must be made with fresh lime to achieve an “authentic” taste. In Brazil, the very best caipirinhas are made with limões galegos––what in the U.S. is often referred to as a key lime. That’s what we believe is best too. The limão galego has a lighter lime odor and tastes a little more acidic. The larger, more readily available, thick-skinned, Tahitian limes sold in the U.S., Brazil and elsewhere can certainly be used but are not as good as key limes (limões galegos).

Classic Caipirinha Recipe (also see observations & notes and making caipirinhas by the pitcher)
In an old fashioned or (flat bottomed) on-the-rocks glass,

  • add 2 to 3 (depending on size) key limes cut into thin slices (approximately 1/8 inch thick). some people like to peel the limes before slicing but this eliminates the lime oil in the peel, which many believe to be essential for an ‘authentic’ taste. You may want to remove any seeds before muddling … unless you’re fond of straining them through your teeth.
  • Add 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of sugar to the top of the lime slices (Brazilians like it VERY sweet) Muddle (mash) sugar and limes together well
  • Add 2 to 3 shots (ounces) cachaça Stir well to thoroughly dissolve the sugar, add cracked ice, stir, enjoy … and think tropical thoughts!

Caipirinhas by the Pitcher
Caipirinhas can certainly be made by the pitcher and we’ve known some Brazilians that make them that way. The important thing when doing this is to maintain the basic ratio of limes, sugar and cachaça. However, muddling can be a bit of a problem when working with this quantity. Some have been known to muddle everything in a metal pan using a very large diameter dowel rod—something at least twice the diameter of a broomstick. Be prepared for a real workout when working with this quantity. Muddling should be done pretty vigorously to release the lime oil in the peel. You also may want to consider gradually adding the sugar throughout the muddling process. After muddling, everything should be transferred to a pitcher before adding the cachaça, mixing thoroughly and, finally adding the ice if you so desire.

Observations & Notes

  • When rum is substituted for cachaça it’s called a caipirissima. When vodka is substituted for cachaça, it’s called a caipirosca. There’s even such a thing as a grapirinha made with Italian grappa, tropical fruit and sugar as well as a sakerinha or sakquêrinha made with Japanese sake or sakquêand either kiwi fruit and/or lime as well as the ever present sugar. We’ve also had reports that some folks are making a drink with half cachaça and half rum or vodka and using brown sugar. We’re not sure what this should be called but it is not a totally authentic caipirinha, however, it will stretch your bottle of cachaça if you’re having trouble finding a regular supplier in the US or elsewhere!
  • For those who don’t like the acidity of the classic, traditional caipirinha (made with fresh limes), tangerine or orange (including the peel) can be substituted, making for a sweeter, less acidic, albeit, not totally authentic caipirinha … but very good! A hint on this one: because oranges and tangerines are naturally sweeter than limes, use less sugar unless you really need a sugar rush!
  • Some have been known to add a few fresh mint leaves to the lime and sugar before (or after) muddling the mixture. It adds another level of flavor that is very refreshing.
  • Caipirinha aficionados use only white cane sugar (made from sugarcane) when making a caipirinha, never beet sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, etc.
  • Slices or wedges? Most bartenders in both Brazil and elsewhere use lime wedges because they have them already prepared for other drinks. The only thing that can be said is that slices make the entire muddling process much easier.
  • In Brazil, the sugar is of a finer granularity, similar to what is often called superfine sugar in the United States and elsewhere. It makes using the typical American sugar that has a “rougher” granularity a little more challenging but have patience. It just takes a little more mixing before you add the ice.
  • Any type of liquid sugar––what American bartenders would call simple syrup––is never used in Brazil, which is, after all, the birthplace of the caipirinha. _Many try to use frozen, concentrated limeade instead of muddling together fresh limes and sugar. We don’t know what the resulting drink should be called but certainly not a caipirinha!
  • American bartenders often use a combination of sweet and sour and simple syrup instead of muddling together limes and sugar. While it is certainly faster and less labor intensive, it does not produce a real caipirinha! _Don’t use your best crystal glasses for (literally) muddling in. The act of muddling is pretty vigorous so use a strong, cheap, glass glass.
  • _Brazilians have been known to muddle the lime and sugar in a pilão (mortar and pestle) before transferring the mixture to a glass and then adding the cachaça and ice.
  • It’s best to use a wooden muddler which can be purchased from many restaurant equipment supply stores. Alternately, use any wooden “thing” you have in the kitchen or even a piece of broomstick! After all, there’s really nothing technically advanced about a muddler. Some restaurant equipment supply stores even have muddlers made from plastic which may prove easier to keep clean.
  • 51 brand cachaça distributes a packaged powdered caipirinha mix consisting of sugar and freeze dried lime juice that they claim produces a “natural taste”. We’re not sure what part of nature they’re from to think that it tastes “natural” but we disagree! While using a caipirinha mix may be faster, it does not produce a real caipirinha!
  • Some describe a caipirinha to the uninitiated as something akin to a sweet margarita. OK, for the uninitiated, that works!


Brazil’s Coffee Regions

There are three main coffee growing areas in Brazil: Mogiana, Sul Minas and Cerrado. These areas feature moderate sunlight and rain. The temperatures are steady year-round, ideal to grow Arabica and Robusta coffee trees. Arabica accounts for about 70% of total harvest. Robusta, a hardier plant that produces lower quality beans makes up the remaining 30%.

The Mogiana region: This is the area along the border of São Paulo and Minas Gerais states north of São Paulo. The Mogiana coffee region is named after the Companhia Mogiana Estrada de Ferro train line that ran through this area when trains and coffee were inseparable companions in commercial and community development. The Mogiana area is known for its rich red soil.

The Sul Minas region: This is the heart of Brazil’s coffee country. The rugged, rolling hills of Sul Minas, are located in the southern part of Minas Gerais state northeast of São Paulo.

The Cerrado region: This is a high, semi-arid plateau surrounding the city of Patrocinio, between São Paulo and Brasilia. This area is located in Brazil’s central high plains region.

Of all the coffees growing in these regions, Brazilian Santos Bourbon is Brazil’s best well known Specialty Coffee.

Santos is a market name referring to the port through which this coffee is traditionally shipped.

The Arabica coffee plants that produce this coffee came from the rich volcanic soils of the island of Bourbon, now called the Island of Reunion.

From a historical perspective, the island of Reunion is located in the Indian Ocean, East of Madagascar. This island was an important stopover on the East Indian trading route. When the Suez Canal opened, the island lost its importance.

Fortunately for Brazil, the trees imported from the island of Reunion took root very well and started one of Brazil’s main cash crops.

Brazilian Santos Bourbon is a light bodied coffee, with low acidity, a pleasing aroma and a mild, smooth flavor. Brazilian Santos Bourbon is dry-processed (dried inside the fruit) which is why some of the sweetness of the fruit carries into the cup.

Brazil’s best coffee: Bourbon Santos

Of the many market names for Brazilian coffee, only one, Santos, is of importance for the specialty-coffee trade.

When not suffering catastrophic frosts, Brazil produces 30 to 35 percent of the world’s coffee. Vast plantations of millions of trees cover the hills of south-central Brazil. For the commercial coffee industry, Brazil is of supreme importance, a giant in every respect, but for the specialty-coffee trade, it shrinks to something smaller than El Salvador. Despite all the coffee produced in Brazil, none ranks close to the world’s best. The Brazilian coffee industry has concentrated from the beginning on producing “price” coffees: cheap, fairly palatable, but hardly distinguished.

Of the many market names for Brazilian coffee, only one, Santos, is of importance for the specialty-coffee trade. Another, Rio, is significant mainly because it lends its name to a peculiar medicinal flavor that coffee people call Rioy.

Santos coffees are grown mainly in the state of Sao Paulo. In the nineteenth century, the harsh flavor of Rio coffee competed for popularity with the mild Santos. Much of the famous New Orleans coffee was Rio coffee, with chicory added, and some coffees dark-roasted in the United States today for the Latin taste may still include Rio coffee. This is because Latins, who drank the cheap, Rioy-tasting natural coffees at home while the more expensive, washed milds were being sold to the United States, may still crave a bit of the old home-country harshness in their dark-roast blends.

Santos coffee, named for one of the principal ports through which it is shipped, comes mainly from the original Bourbon strain of Coffea arabica brought to Brazil in the eighteenth century from the island of Bourbon, now Reunion. For the first three or four years these trees produce a small, curly bean that coffee people call Bourbon Santos. This is the highest-grade coffee Brazil produces, and it will more than likely be the coffee a store sells as Brazilian. After three or four years, the beans begin to grow larger and flat; this coffee is called Flat Bean Santos and is cheaper and less desirable than Bourbon Santos. Bandeirante is a particularly good and consistent Brazilian estate-grown coffee that appears frequently on specialty coffee lists.

Bourbon Santos is smooth in flavor, medium in body, with moderate acidity in short, another decent but hardly extraordinary coffee. Since it generally sells for about the same as more distinguished, unusual coffees, I see little reason to buy it except gourmet curiosity. The cheaper Brazilian coffees are occasionally for sale in specialty stores, presumably to be used by consumers to save money in their private blends.