Sunday, August 17, 2008

winner: the official cocktail of summer (2008)

Devoted readers of ack/nak will remember with great fondness the two previous winners of the ack/nak "official cocktail of summer" award. Those of you who are not quite as devoted will require links to help you remember how to mix the perfect Manhattan and a never-perfect Chupacablahblah.  Please review them for context.

For 2008, the competition was fierce.  Many new cocktails were attempted, not quite as many were perfected, but all were consumed and evaluated.  My apologies to guests who participated in the evaluation process, a process which was not always as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be.  I am especially sorry for those of you who participated in the extensive evaluation of the Paloma, and I hope your recovery is coming along nicely.

But in the end there can be only one.

In 2008, the official cocktail of summer is. . .

The Caipirinha.

Sweet Jesu in a Birch-Bark Canoe, this is a drink that demands respect.  Forged from an unholy alliance of limes, sugar and poorly-refined automobile propellant, this Brazilian classic will deprive you of a variety of senses and a measurable quantity of your cognitive capacity.  Good news, you will be unlikely to come down with a case of scurvy after one of these, so you've got that going for you.

The main culprit in this cocktail is cachaca, a traditional Brazilian beverage that like most clear distilled liquors comes in a variety of strengths, from "smooth" to "sort of smooth" to "don't get it on that paint" to "industrial solvent".
If the Manhattan gives you a sense of what severe tire damage feels like, the Caipirinha introduces you to Mr. Great Big Sumo Guy.  As he's falling from a third story window.  On you.
An Asian Lime, halved, cored and sliced into four segments.  These aren't the round ball limes you see at the check-out line at Binny's.  These look more like lemons.  Make sure to cut off the ends.
1 teaspoon of demerara sugar
3 nuggets of crystalized ginger
2+ ounces of cachaca

Place the lime slices in a thick-bottomed glass.  Sprinkle the sugar on it, and drop in the crystallized ginger.  Muddle the piss out of it.  Really, just wail away at this until you've got a barely-recognizable organic paste.  Aim for "can't quite tell if there's sugar in there".

Fill the glass with ice, right up to the top.  Fill the ice-filled glass with cachaca.

Pour into a cocktail shaker and shake, shake, shake, senora, shake it all the time.

Decant back into the glass, make sure you don't have to drive anywhere, say goodbye to your loved ones, and enjoy.

The people at Leblon have prepared a nice tutorial on how to make one of these devils, but it won't taste as good as the one I've described for you here.  The crystallized ginger delivers an additional flavor note that I really enjoyed, in addition to an end-of-drink challenge to see if I could find the wee little ginger bit buried at the bottom of the glass. 

I've tried this with a variety of cachachas, and I'm enjoying Leblon right now.  I think.

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