About a month ago I had the pleasure to join Arte da Cachaça a cocktail competition sponsored by Leblon.
This competition was all about brazilian cocktail culture: its traditions, histories and techniques.
The selection to the finals was theme on “The Country of Caipirinha”.
Each bartender was to make a caipirinha-style cocktail inspired by the original history, traditions and techniques.
My main inspiration for this came from the Uai Tai, by Minas Gerais most famous cocktailian mind Tony Harion.
Leblon has a aged expression called Leblon Reserve which ages in old Cognac casks hance retaining lots of simmilarities with this product, like its dried fruits characters.
We can identify a Caipirinha by some major factors: Muddled citrus fruit, quality Cachaça, built in the glass it will be served.
Another inspiration comes from the tradition to always eat something wile sipping, be it a feijoada or a nuts mix.
Since almond notes will work well with our base spirit (Leblon Reserve) it was easy to use the nuts mix as a base for an orgeat.
Those nuts mix usually has some raisins thrown in and those would compliment well the dried fruits characters in the Leblon Reserve.
Here in Brazil it is very common to use other citrus fruits other than the typical tahitian limes, simply out of availability and necessity. Since September/October is mandarin season in here and those fruits have some bitter notes in its peel it would work well in place of the triple-sec used in the Uai Tai / Mai Tai.
Hence I have my caipirinha-style Mai-Tai-inspired cocktail Trem bão, which translate to Good stuff, just like Mai Tai translate to Really good.
1oz mixed nuts orgeat*
1oz lime juice
2oz Leblon Reserve
1 mint sprig for garnish
Muddle the mandarin with the orgeat. Add the other ingredient, then add ice and stir briefly. Garnish with the mint sprig.
Having made the best caipirinha and went to the finals where the theme was “The Next Brazilian Classic”
The most iconic brazilian classic are: Caipirinha, Rabo de Galo and Bombeirinho.
The Rabo de Galo being the aromatic one and the others fruity/sours.
Since the brazilian palate is evolving to a more aromatic, dry, bitter styled cocktails it seems logical to make something along this way.
Enter the Golden Ratio!
There are three main recipes for the Rabo de Galo:
- Manhattan-style: Cachaça, sweet vermouth and bitters;
- Little Italy-style: Cachaça, sweet vermouth and Cynar;
- the São Paulo way: Cachaça and Cynar.
Having already utilized the aged expression it was time to make something with the “unaged” Leblon.
Since cachaça is a fairly sweet spirit I blended it with dry vermouth and also added some complexity by utilizing Benedictine along with the Cynar.
This real apotheosis to the Boteco (from greek apothéke) traditions was named then Apotekose.
3/4oz Martini Dry
Mix the ingredients over ice, honoring the boteco traditions.
Or alternatively stir and strain over a rock, craft cocktail bar style.
Garnish with a lemon zest.
P.S: The winner of the competition, my good fellow Caio Bonneau, will be as guest bartender in Employees Only some time next week. Make sure to go there if you are around NYC.
*Mixed nuts Orgeat
1 cup of mixed nuts (almond, hazelnut, macadamia, brazil nut)
1 cup of raisin
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water.
Soak the nuts in water for 8h and drain.
Blend the nuts, raising and water.
Strain and add the sugar, mix to disolve.