I’m Lexi Abel of LexiBites.com. Every month, Lexi Bites explores internationally inspired bites and booze, no passport reqired. It’s the season of cold days and ever darker nights. We’re still a few weeks away from spring, and we could all use a little something to warm our spirits from the winter chill. This season, turn to cranberry to infuse new life into a classic cocktail.
Packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins C and E, cranberries are among the healthiest of seasonal berries. The tart, marble-sized berries are cultivated in bogs in Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin and Washington.
The natural pucker-inducing tartness of cranberries is a perfect contrast to sweet Brazilian cachaça. Like its cousin, Caribbean rum, cachaça comes from sugarcane, but its production and distillation are remarkably different. Cachaça is considered a denomination d’origine controlee (DOC), like Champagne, and can only be produced in Brazil. The spirit is always made from the fresh pressed juice of sugarcane, while rum is a byproduct of the production of molasses, also made from sugarcane juice.
The difference in production between rum and cachaça results in a widely different taste profile. Unaged cachaça is light and fresh, with notes of grass, while older, aged cachaças are loaded with flavors of baking spice and dried fruit.
The most popular way to drink cachacha is in a caipirinha. Known as Brazil’s natural cocktail, the beloved “caipi” is made with just three ingredients. It’s easy to make—and even easier to drink. For a seasonal twist, I added a taste of winter to this otherwise summery cocktail with an infusion of fresh cranberries and Cranberry Simple Syrup.
- 3/4 oz Cranberry simple syrup
- 10 fresh cranberries
- 2 tsp dark brown sugar
- 1/8 of a lime
- 2 oz cachaca
To make Cranberry Simple Syrup: Place water, sugar and cranberries in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain out cranberries and chill Cranberry Simple Syrup until ready to use. Strained cranberries can be reserved and spread on toast or mixed into yogurt or oatmeal. Cranberry Simple Syrup can be refrigerated for up to one month.
For Cranberry Caipirinha: Add Cranberry Simple Syrup, fresh cranberries, dark brown sugar and a wedge of lime to the bottom of a cocktail shaker. With the back of a spoon or a muddler, muddle until lime and other ingredients are blended. Add ice and cachaça. Shake until chilled, about 10-15 seconds. Taste and add additional Cranberry Simple Syrup or brown sugar until desired sweetness is achieved. Pour drink, with ice, into a rocks glass. Add additional ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
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