Today marks a very important day for soccer (or should I say football?) fans around the world, it's opening day of the World Cup.
Like the Olympics, the World Cup only comes around once every four years. Though professional soccer is definitely not one of the top five sports in the United States, across the globe it's celebrated in countries spanning multiple continents.
This year's World Cup is taking place in Brazil. To celebrate that locale, the bartenders of Tavern Road mixed up a cocktail class celebrating the best of Brazil.
Thanks to the generosity of the Tavern Road crew, I was able to attend the Brazilian cocktail class on Tuesday night.
I arrived at 7:00pm to find the Tavern Road Street Food space (where they typically serve a more casual lunch) transformed into a Brazilian paradise.
The class was very intimate, only ten people, and each of us had a place setting with all the bar equipment and ingredients we'd need to shake up our very own Brazilian drinks.
Up and down the table there were bowls of fresh fruits and veggies, all possible mix ins or garnishes for the cocktails. The vibrant colors of the fruit added a punch of brightness to the table setting.
At each individual seat there was a menu of the drinks we'd be creating, a muddler, and all the glasses we'd need for our boozy treats.
To kick off, our teachers, Ryan and Bruno, gave us a history of the cocktail culture in Brazil. Bruno grew up in Brazil and Ryan has been making regular trips to San Paulo as a consultant and now, as a bar owner.
Ryan and Bruno took us through each of the drinks we'd be making and the local culture around the preparation and serving traditions of those beverages.
First up, the caipirinha!
I had my first caipirinha at a Brazilian steak house on Cape Cod (don't get me started). Let me just tell you, that drink is strong. If you've ever had one before, you know what I'm talking about (or maybe you can't remember).
Ryan demonstrated for us the four easy steps to make the drink.
Then it was our turn to try shaking for ourselves. The drink has three simple ingredients: cachaca (Brazilian liquor), lime and sugar. Lots and lots of sugar.
Here is my very first hand shaken caipirinha:
As you can see, lots of fresh lime. This drink is cool, sweet, refreshing and oh so strong.
Next, Bruno talked us through the use of fresh fruit in Brazilian drinks, while Ryan brought each of us our next tasty glass, this time, a pineapple alua.
Ryan and Bruno had pre-made these puppies because they require fermenting pineapple, which we just didn't have time to do during this 90 minute class. The pineapple alua is cachaca (are you sensing a theme here?), clove infused pineapple, brown sugar, ginger, and a pineapple leaf for garnish.
This drink has a beautiful, bright color that's perfect for summer, but the clove adds a hint of fall, or as Ryan mentioned, reminds some people of baking. It sounds like an unlikely pair, but this was my favorite drink of the night. I liked how the clove cut the sweetness of the pineapple. I have stayed away from pineapple juice since a very unfortunate Malibu rum and pineapple incident in college, but this drink made we want to work pineapple back into my bar cart.
After our second round of drinks, it was time for some Brazilian snacks. We started with the traditional Brazilian cheese bread, which Bruno told us is common at breakfast.
Next up, chicken hearts. I didn't touch these, but everyone around me was really enjoying them, to the point where people were reaching over each other to stick their tooth pick back in.
There was also a platter of ham and cheese rice balls, similar to an arancini. As people bit into these, the ooey gooey cheese was running down their chins!
For our third and final drink, Bruno spun us a batch of batida. We learned that batida is a common drink made for big groups, to be served at parties or to take to the beach. Ryan also shared that there are bars that only serve batidas. That is their specialty.
The batida has three ingredients: cachaca (third time's a charm!), fruit puree (in our case, passion fruit) and condensed milk. Here's Bruno pouring the milk:
Then you swirl it all up in a blender and voila! A delicious summer cool down drink.
Ryan and Bruno served our batidas in wine glasses with a strawberry slice and a piece of star fruit as a garnish. How gorgeous is this?
The batida was an awesome after dinner drink and I couldn't help but fantasize about how great it would taste frozen as a popsicle.
Over the course of our 90 minutes together we learned a ton about the culture of Brazil, the evolution of their approach to cocktails and how to make the best versions of these Brazilian classics for our family and friends.
I was pleasantly surprised by how few ingredients you need to make these killer drinks. Same goes for the amount of bar equipment. These are all totally doable, even for someone as kitchen-challenged as me.
A huge thanks to Ryan and Bruno who were excellent teachers. Ryan wore his bright yellow Brazil soccer jersey with a yellow watch and yellow sneakers to match. Bruno, equal parts outrageously kind and outrageously handsome, gave us really authentic stories about how these drinks are best served and enjoyed. He even helped me set my glass free from the cocktail shaker when I moronically couldn't remove it. Let's just say, I didn't mind his help.
Tavern Road is going to be offering more cocktails classes in the future and you should absolutely sign up. The intimate, ten person setting really allows you to hear every word, try things yourself and meet great new people.
Now onto the most important thing, the recipes!
- Granulated sugar
- Muddle 3/4 a whole lime with three teaspoons of granulated sugar in a mixing glass
- Add 2 ounces of cachaca
- Fill with ice and shake for 10 seconds
- Put contents into pre-chilled scotch or old fashioned glass
- Brown sugar
- Pineapple leaves for garnish
- Take one whole pineapple and remove the skin/shell and cut into small cubes
- In a bowl, toss with a 1/4 a cup of ground cloves
- Put mixture into a blender and puree for several minutes until liquified
- Double strain through a fine strainer (chinoise of siv)
- Then, take 2 cups of diced ginger and 1 cup of brown sugar syrup (1/2 brown sugar, 1/2 water) and puree in a blender until almost all ginger has been pureed
- As with the pineapple, strain through chinoise or siv
- Let cool down
- To make one drink, take 1.5 ounces of pineapple/clove infusion, 1 ounce of ginger brown sugar cordial and put into a chilled Collins glass
- Fill with ice and stir to incorporate
- Top with a light zest of cinnamon
- Garnish with a pineapple leaf
- Condensed milk
- Fruit puree
- In a blender filled with ice add equal parts cachaca, condensed milk and fruit puree (we used passion fruit)
- Puree for about 45 - 60 seconds
- Then pour mixture into chosen glass (I loved the wine glassses!)
- Garnish with assorted fruit (for that tropical feeling)
Enjoy these recipes and definitely let me know what you shake up at home!
Thanks again to the crew at Tavern Road for a fantastically fun, boozy and delicious evening.