By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Those who think that it is “too much work” to go up on Rio’s hillside in Santa Teresa are definitely missing the incredible cultural scene this neighborhood has to offer. Apart from its cultural centers, fanfare band presentations and outdoor spontaneous parties, Santa’s bars are always a good option for drinking out.
Among Bar do Mineiro’s highlights, one will certainly find its caipirinhas, specially popular among foreigners. For R$16, it is possible to enjoy it in three different flavors: lime, lemon or passion fruit, all of them blended with the great cachaça Salinas, traditional label from Minas Gerais.
Minas Gerais, by the way, is where most of Bar do Mineiros’s delicious culinary recipes come from, like the pork ribs with farofa and the black beans’ pastel (Brazil’s typical snack with fried dough).
At Bar do Mineiro, one can also appreciate the owner’s incredible art collection – including works by renowned visual artists, like Volpi – which is exhibited on the bar’s walls.
Not far from Mineiro is Armazém São Thiago, a typical Portuguese-style bar and restaurant whose house is protected as public heritage. Also known as Bar do Gomez, referring to its former owner, Armazém São Thiago gathers vintage decoration with friendly environment and cold beer.
Even though Armazém’s inside area is big enough to accommodate its clients, most of them actually prefer to enjoy a beer on the outside, following the street’s movement and checking on those who come and go.
Besides Armazém’s great draught beer, one must try out some of its tasteful finger foods, like the sweet potato “salgado” stuffed with dry meat and gorgonzola cheese or the “coxinha”.
Located in the charming Hotel Santa Teresa, the Bar dos Descasados is a great bet for those who look for a discrete, elegant and high standard drinking venue. The bar became specially famous after 2011, when Hotel Santa Teresa hosted singer Amy Winehouse.
“I like Descasados specially for its environment and decoration. It is classy and contemporary at the same time. And they have a really nice drinks’ menu”, says Julia de Faria, French-Brazilian student who lives in front of Hotel Santa Teresa.
Among Descasados’ refined drinks, one of the best is “Back to Black”, a tribute to Winehouse’s namesake song, consisting of an unusual mixture of Maesa vodka, Drambuie, pineapple juice and Irish cream.
Likewise, “snoop”, a homage to American rapper Snoop Dogg, is also worth to try, made of gin, mandarin juice, Sicilian lemon and ginger.
Those looking for a chilled Descasados’ experience should check it on the week days. On the weekends, it usually gets busy due to DJs who spin on Fridays, and the live jazz shows on Sundays.
Another suggestion for those into a chic, artsy venue is Mama Shelter. Originally inaugurated in Paris, the boutique hostel and bar offers the perfect environment for enjoying a drink and a snack in style – specially on Fridays and Saturdays, when DJs spin on the house.
Besides the diverse beer labels, Mama Shelter’s carefully prepared drinks are certainly the house’s specialty. A refreshing option one should go for is “mama loves you”, a blend of Absolut vodka, peach liqueur, lemon and pineapple juice. Mama Shelter’s artisanal pizzas are a great companion for their drinks.
Inaugurated an year ago, Explorer Bar makes one feel Santa’s intimate atmosphere like no other does. Its balcony, perfect for enjoying a drink on one of those warm nights in Rio, really gives the impression of being at a good friend’s house.
Run by a Chilean, a Israeli and an American, the bar has a great culinary and drinking menu that offers exclusive recipes. Blending gin, Aperol, hibiscus sirop and tonic, the drink “aloha” is one of the nicest picks.
Food wise, one should try out the “mar à galega”, consisting in shrimps and octopus spiced with herbs, accompanied by potatoes with hot paprika and sriracha sauce.