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Cocktails

Master the Brazilian Classics

May 15, 2024

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Punch

Cocktails

Master the Brazilian Classics

May 15, 2024

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Punch

Five cocktails from the country’s emergent cocktail scene, from the Batida to the Rabo de Galo.

Whether it’s the Rabo de Galo, popularized first as a shot in Brazilian botecos (local dive bars), or the country’s frothy take on the Moscow Mule, an ingenious way to localize an international drink, the constituents of Brazil’s emergent canon of cocktails all find a way to celebrate national identity in the glass. You’re likely familiar with the refreshing Caipirinha, but there’s so much more to Brazilian drinking than just one cachaça cocktail. Here are five recipes to know.

Macunaíma

Shortly after São Paulo bartender Arnaldo Hirai created the Macunaíma, an unlikely mix of cachaça, Fernet-Branca and lime, it took off across the country. Hirai, who developed the drink to celebrate Brazil as the host of soccer’s World Cup, credits its rapid spread to its simplicity: “Almost every bar has cachaça, lime and a dusty bottle of Fernet on the shelf,” he says, and the drink is simply shaken then served in a rocks glass without ice.

Macunaima
Rabo de Galo

Rabo de Galo, a mix of aged cachaça, sweet vermouth and Cynar, is also a play on words: In Portuguese, “galo” means “rooster” (or “cock”), and “rabo” means “tail.” The simple drink was born in the 1950s when Italian vermouth producer Cinzano first introduced the concept of a mixed-spirit shot at local bars in São Paulo, and it quickly evolved into a beloved drink served on the rocks.

Rabo de Galo Brazil Cocktail Recipe
Brazilian Moscow Mule

Though the Moscow Mule does not originate in Brazil—the classic is likely American in origin—this preparation, made with a gingery foam topper, has gone on to have a life of its own across the country. Born of necessity when affordable options for the requisite ginger beer were still unavailable in Brazil, Marcelo Serrano’s version cleverly sidesteps the need for any mixer. His recipe has become the go-to preparation. “I still like the original recipe,” he notes, “but my clients never let me prepare it.”

Brazil Moscow Mule
Caipirinha

The most famous Brazilian drink worldwide, this cachaça classic is a summer standby for a reason. The combination of the spirit, freshly muddled lime and cane sugar has been around for centuries, and in its long life, has spawned many riffs, like the Caipisake (made with sake, a nod to the country’s Japanese immigrant population).

Caipirinha Cocktail Recipe
Batida

Brazil’s emergent cocktail culture, which birthed many of the drinks on this list, left the Batida, a fruity, blended drink often served on the beach, in flux. The Batida’s classic inclusion of sweetened condensed milk, for example, is controversial given the inclination among bartenders to avoid making anything too sweet. But the drink, a showcase of local ingredients from coconuts to cashew fruit, still has a place in the country, and in recent years, has seen a resurgence. According to bartender Edu Tavares, it’s difficult to understand why the crowd-pleasing, creamy cocktail ever disappeared from cocktail lists in the first place.

Batida Brazil Cocktail Recipe

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