It’s properly hot today. Seriously, searingly hot. The temp is pegged at 100° with the humidity in close pursuit. It’s a stand in the shade as you melt sort of scorcher out there. Which is why I am in here, making a drink. Something cool, refreshing, summery and full of life giving hydration, perfect for replenishing those bodily fluids when you know you should be out there mowing the lawn So, if you prefer being cool to languishing in the sun with the rest of the hotheads, won’t you join me now as we stand and make The Brazilian Smuggler.
This tall drink of cocktail comes to us from Charlotte, North Carolina’s classic cocktail spot, Dot Dot Dot. It’s a riff on the Caipirinha was created by Stefan Huebner and Andrew Skelton for their seasonal menu using juice from locally grown watermelons to give a Southern twist to this Brazilian classic. Let’s grab our tins and see how it turn out.
Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of Cachaca, I opted for the Pirassununga Cachaca 51, 1/2 an ounce of dry curaçao, I subbed in Cointreau to cover an inventory shortage at Stately Monkey Manor; 1/2 an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup 5-6 mint leaves and 2 ounces of fresh squeezed watermelon juice. How do you squeeze a watermelon? Very carefully, of course. To get the juice toss some sliced watermelon in the blender and puree till there are no more lumps, strain into a glass and serve or mix it in a cocktail, you do you. When your drink is assembled add 5-6 artisanal ice cubes and give it a good shake to the beat of João Gilberto’s “Aguarela do Brasil“. It’s a good shaking song and the finished drink certainly reminds me of a watercolor, so why not? When well chilled, double strain into a collins glass over rocks and garnish with some freshly slapped mint.
That’s about as lovely as can be. You definitely get that inspiration from the Caipirinha, with the cachaca and mint there in the base of the flavor, but that watermelon takes it to a new and different place. Not necessarily better, but certainly equal, which is saying a lot since the Caipirinha is one of the most refreshing drinks out there. I am not getting a lot of the orange, but I think it is one of those flavors you would miss if it weren’t there. This is a rock solid twist on the classic. I see why people keep coming back for it, even when out of season. I wonder if watermelon juice keeps? Hmmm… what about frozen watermelon juice? That’s it, icy cold Brazilian Smuggler pops, served in the shade with some mint. That sounds just about wonderful today. I’ll have to get on that.
I just love this sort of local twist on a classic. You see a lot of variations on the Old-Fashioned using local ingredients on menus, but this is the first Caipirinha variant I remember seeing. It’s definitely a solid intro to the lexicon of stuff we ought to make more often. This is also a great example of how a small tweak can create an entirely new treat with a surprisingly complimentary flavor. That watermelon really picks up the mint and the cachaca and enhances them. That’s what makes a great riff work, picking ingredients that make the original shine in a new, perhaps better, way. Life is that way too. Shake things up every once in a while with some new ingredients. I tried mustard on watermelon today just to see what the kids are all talking about. Turns out it is pretty good. I did not see that coming, but that’s why we experiment. New experiences are how we we learn and grow. Try to pick things that will make the good parts even better, but take some chances too. It’s not all supposed to be roses and rainbows, sometimes things need to suck a little, to make us appreciate the good parts. Kevin Smith will have any number of characters tell you all about it, you gotta have the bitter with the sweet, but not today. On this way too hot afternoon, we are gonna kick back and enjoy a slightly sweet twist on a classic and we are not going to spend even a moment contemplating the innuendo filled possibilities of one who smuggles Brazilians. In the meantime, stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.