By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the World Cup in full swing, Brazil’s manager Tite recently told reporters that after each victory he traditionally allows himself one reward: he drinks a caipirinha. And he’s not the only one – the deceptively strong and delicious drink is known as Brazil’s national cocktail.
So in honor of Tite’s tradition, here are five great caipirinhas to seek out in Rio de Janeiro.
Gávea Beach Club (São Conrado)
Purests would scoff at the variations on offer, but Gávea Beach Club has one of the best caipirinhas in the city, with high-quality cachaca and fresh ingredients, along with some spectacular views, a great location and tasty food.
Anna Whyte is an Australian-American NGO volunteer and ten-year Rio resident who is a big fan of discovering great places to drink a caipirinha, “My personal favorite spot to enjoy a caipirinha is at the Gavea Beach Club kiosk right on São Conrado Beach. They have a wide range of fruits to chose from and fabulous views of the beach, mountains and sunset.”
Caipi-Sexta at Caminhos Language Centre (Ipanema)
At R$5 a drink, these have to be one of the best value caipirinhas in the city, and they come with a convivial crowd made up of students of Portuguese from all around the world, as well as friends of the school and two expert Carioca cocktail mixers, Davi and Pablo.
Unfortunately, Caipi-Sexta only happens once a month – usually on the first Friday of the month – so it’s less of a reliable regular spot and more one to look out for when the time comes around. But attend one and you won’t want to miss another.
Academia da Cachaça (Leblon)
Visit the place that helped put cachaça back on the map and enjoy a caipirinha how the purests insist it is made: not with vodka, sake or rum, but only with high-quality cachaça serving as the cocktail’s foundation.
However, they do offer variations of the cachaça based drink, as Whyte explains, “They have so many different types of cachaças from all over Brazil, so you can have fun mixing up different caipirinhas with exotic fruits such as kiwi, caju, seriguela, or you can simply enjoy sipping an aged cachaça on its own.”
Another one for fans of a spectacular sunset, Palaphita is a chic lounge bar located on Rio’s famous ‘Lagoa’ (Lagoon). The bar offers enchanting views of Christ the Redeemer and the surrounding mountains, while the actual caipirinha they serve up would be worth the trip alone.
The cocktail can be made to order, either frozen or chilled, and with a huge range of exotic fruits from all over Brazil, including jabuticaba (a sweet berry that only grows in Brazil), cupuaçu (a tropical plant from the Amazon) umbu (Brazilian plum) lychee and many more wild ingredients.
Bar do David (Chapéu Mangueira)
This place is well-known among Cariocas as an excellent example of what restaurants in favela communities have to offer. It is located on the hillside of Chapéu Mangueira, just behind Leme, and it serves up food and drinks of a quality that more than rivals the restaurants below, yet at only a fraction of the price.
It also offers a most unusual caipirinha, as Anna Whyte explains, “The owner, David, offers a caipirinha with cream and ovomaltine! I can’t say it was my favorite, but it’s certainly original!”
“Of course,” she adds, “David has the traditional caipirinhas as well, with lime or passionfruit.” But he’s mainly famous for his incredible food and spectacular views of the city below. Just don’t have too many drinks before the steep walk down!