When the menu has something spicy, try The Caipirinha – Brazil’s Signature Cocktail; it’s sweet with lots of citrus and is the perfect match!
The last two decades have ushered in a kind of food and beverage renaissance, as Americans have traded in outdated recipe cards and post-war approaches to mealtime for farm-to-fork dining and international flavors. The proliferation of innovative food blogs and the ease of ordering previously hard-to-find ingredients online have allowed gourmands and home chefs alike to branch out from their comfort zones and whip up new recipes for their families and friends.
Celebrity chefs, Internet personalities and cookbook authors have contributed to the ease of entertaining with recipes for approachable yet elegant hors d’oeuvres and craft cocktails. Whether you aim to revive a homegrown jazz age standard or serve up a libation with an exotic twist, the ingredients and recipes for crowd pleasing potables are now a mere click away.
I hope the monthly adventure that my friends and I put together for you with Progressive Eats is inspiring many to try something new. And not just new, but food and cocktails that are approachable as well. Making a fancy dish that is too difficult for a cook at home to accomplish is not our goal; creating menu ideas for those wanting to have fun is.
Our theme this month chosen by Karen from the blog Karen’s Kitchen Stories is all Latin America inspired menu items from cocktails to desserts and even includes a couple that use the infamous Instant Pot; it doesn’t get much easier than that.
I decided to add a cocktail to the mix. The Caipirinha Cocktail hails from Brazil and is to that country what Margaritas are to the US and the Paloma is to Mexico…the most popular drink of all. I became familiar with this cocktail when the Olympics were held in Brazil; of course we had one in hand while watching the games!
While some might assure you that a Caipirinha is fine with rum, true stalwarts will fight that notion with veracity and insist you use Cachaça. Both rum and Cachaça start with sugar cane but there the similarities end. The key difference between the two spirits lies in the way the base ingredient is handled. Rum is traditionally made from processed cane (molasses) while Cachaça is made from fresh-pressed, unprocessed cane juice which lends it a distinctive clean, grassy flavor and a subtle but evident herbaceous nose.
Probably the best known Cachaça is Pitu but just as I would recommend you move beyond gold tequila to a reposado, steer clear of the cheapest and find something more mid range. Leblon was perfect for trying this new cocktail; it carries a mid level price point with a good flavor profile. Check out this video for how to make the Caipirinha Recipe – so easy to make and I think the perfect refreshing cocktail to enjoy with spicy Latin American food!
While it’s always a great idea to have familiar mixed drinks on hand, diversifying your guests’ options with the unexpected will make the party extra special. My own foray into the world of cocktails has meant that every occasion requires a specialty drink and with some practice it’s become an easy and fun alternative to meeting friends at a local watering hole; I AM the watering hole!
If you’re interested in additional beverages that are great with Latin American food; you also can’t go wrong with a great Margarita (that’s my new favorite above from my bestie George Clooney). To make cocktails easy to serve to a crowd, simply combine all the non-carbonated ingredients of your favorite cocktail ahead of time, and shake and pour over ice when guests arrive. Add the appropriate garnish and splash of soda when it’s time to serve, and delight the crowd with something exciting.
Our senses of smell and taste are linked most strongly with memory, and distributing a round of Cachaça, Tequila or Mezcal-based cocktails for a Latin American themed soiree can be fun and adventurous.
While alcohol is a well known icebreaker, when the drink itself tells a story, you can count on an even more enjoyable gathering. With niche cookbooks and cocktail recipes becoming more and more fashionable, the stigma that swanky beverages are complicated and unapproachable at home is quickly fading. The Paloma shown above is a great example; it’s a combination of simple ingredients that can sweep you away to another land; it’s the perfect accompaniment to spicy Mexican food.
The home entertainer can keep pace with the best of them, and offer impressive seasonal drinks throughout the year. It’s one reason I love offering cocktails to my readers every week; to show just how easy it is to make a great cocktail at home with just a couple of ingredients.
The relatively recent push for people to know where their food comes from has expanded into the cocktail world as well, creating delicious and fun alternatives to old stand-bys, and opening the door for modern experimentation. It’s a great time to mix up the old routine and pour your energy into discovering new drinks. The Caipirinha is one I heartily recommend and would be a fantastic cocktail with any of these dishes!
Flavors of Latin America!
- The Caipirinha – Brazil’s Signature Cocktail – Creative Culinary
- Chimichuri Chicken Bites – The Wicked Noodle
- Yukka Enpenadas with Jalapeño Cilantro Salsa – SpiceRoots
- Pan Blanco Cuencano – Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Instant Pot Chicken Filled Arepas (gluten free) – The Heritage Cook
- Patatas Bravas Chilenas (Chile Potatoes) – From a Chef’s Kitchen
- Easy Colombian Patacones or Green Plantains – Mother Would Know
- Tres Leches Cake – That Skinny Chick Can Bake