Cocktails & Recipes

Cheers – “Latin Living”

Patricia Woods

Every year, more U.S. restaurants look south for inspiration and business.

Everyone knows, anecdotally, that Hispanics of all sorts make up a growing portion of the country’s population, but real numbers are astonishing: In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that America’s Hispanic population (South Americans, Central Americans and Caribbeaners) grew by 13 percent to 39.9 million people, making it the fastest growing segment and largest minority group in our culture.

As the dining public tries out new types of cuisine, whether it is Brazilian churrasco or Peruvian ceviche, they’re likely to forego the usual Martini and inquire about traditional South American beverages.

NEW WORLD DRINK PRIMER
Cachaça: Made from fermented sugar cane, this is the national spirit of Brazil and is the key ingredient in a Caipirhina. It’s said to have been created 400 years ago by plantation owners who gave the beverage to slaves in order to increase their productivity. Over time, more refined, distilled cachaças were developed. Brazil produces one billion liters of cachaça a year, and there are more than 4,000 different brands, mostly selling for about $1 per bottle. Only a few cachaças, like Pitu and Ypioca, are widely available in the U.S., but a new importer, Excalibur, is bringing in Beleza Pura® as well as single barrel and aged varieties GRM and Rochinha.

Caipirinha: Meaning “little peasant girl,” this Brazilian drink is made by muddling sugar and lime juice with cachaça and ice.

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