Thursday, July 2, 2015

Toast the World Cup: 8 great caipirinhas

Brazil's national drink, and where to find it.

Toast the World Cup: 8 great caipirinhas

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Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup - the world’s most widely viewed sporting event - from June 12 to July 13.

To celebrate, make like a Brazilian and sip a caipirinha, the refreshing cocktail made with muddled lime, sugar and cachaça (a distinctive sugarcane-based Brazilian spirit) over ice.

Oh, and say it "KAY-peer-in-ya."

Here’s where to go to find one - and maybe catch a soccer match or two while you’re at it.

 

Fogo de Chao

Bartenders at this steakhouse chain’s local outpost sling hundreds of expertly made classic caipirinhas every week, plus a variety of Brazilian-inspired cocktails. Fogo even has its own corporate brand of cachaça, but Pennsylvania liquor laws preclude serving it at the Philly location. Instead it’s Velho Barreiro in the standard caipirinha ($10.75), and Ypióca or Leblon in the premium ($12.25).

Chima

This spacious Brazilian churrascaria near the Comcast Center is great for groups, and the regular drink menu features a terrific Leblon caipirinha ($12) and a slew of fruity cachaça-focused libations. Head over after work for $6 caipirinhas and half-priced appetizers (Sunday to Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m.). A special Soccer Celebration Happy Hour event will be held on June 12, the first day of the World Cup.

Alma de Cuba

Choose from several iterations of carefully concocted caipirinhas at Stephen Starr’s Nuevo Latino destination. In addition to the classic Lime ($10), there’s an excellent Black Cherry ($10) made with cherry-infused cachaça. Vodka stands in for the Brazilian spirit in the Passionfruit Caipiroska ($12), while the Brugal Caipirissima ($12) is a rum-based alternative. For bargain-hunting revelers, the Lime Caiprinha will be marked down to $5 during happy hour (weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.) for the duration of the World Cup. 

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

At this tucked-away bar near Rittenhouse, the staff takes their cocktails very seriously, so it’s no surprise that the caipirina ($12) they serve at the elegant bar is smooth and perfectly balanced. Bartenders use the “smash” style here, skillfully muddling the lime wedges to impart the oils from the rind. The limes, simple syrup and Ypióca cachaça are shaken with a small amount of cracked ice and then topped with more ice. 

Vedge

This haute-vegan mecca might seem a little out of place on a steakhouse-heavy list, but owners Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby have a special affinity for Brazil and its national cocktail - so much so that they named their son Rio, and once owned a cat called Caipirinha. Jacoby, who oversees the bar program, even keeps a stash of artisanal cachaças at home. She ensures that the delicious Vedge caipirinha ($8 to $11, depending on type of cachaça) is simple, so that the pure flavors come to the fore.

Positano Coast

The menu and ambiance at this Old City Italian is Mediterranean-inspired, but the bartenders know their way around a South American drink: Their popular caipirinha ($11) is a year-round fixture on Positano’s classic cocktail list. A new addition on the spring/summer menu is the Maracanã ($12) - named after the stadium in Rio de Janeiro - a sweeter mix of cachaça, blood orange liqueur and macerated strawberries. Three TVs in the breezy bar area will be tuned in to the World Cup. 

Mixto

This Washington Square West pan-Latin spot, with umbrellaed tables flanking quaint Pine Street, is lovely for a drink al fresco. At the indoor second-floor bar, they’ll be showing all of the matches - including daytime games. In addition to the standard caipirinha ($9; Leblon upgrade $11) a new “Brasilian Game Cocktails” menu debuts June 12, with $7 cachaça- and acaí-focused drinks, such as the ruby-colored Rio Royale (champagne topped with acaí liqueur).

Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse

It’s BYO-cachaça at this casual Northeast mom-and-pop, where diners hand over a bottle and the server returns with a whole pitcher of stellar caipirinhas for $6 (free if you supply your own limes). But that’s not the only draw here: The top-notch rodízio meats are carved tableside, and there’s a generous buffet. It's a great place for kids, especially if they’re soccer fans - owners plan to bring in extra TVs during the World Cup.

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