Reggae tracks waft lazily in the bar-by-the-sea space marked with terracotta tile and rope basket lanterns. Rain or shine, when entering the Midtown location of Oporto, it sets you down right by the ocean instead. Whether it's a riff off the Brazilian classic Caipirinha or a simple G & T made with his own tonic; veteran bartender Beto Suarez deals in refreshing. What better way to pass the afternoon than posting up at the cool marble bar for a while.
"I want you to try this," he said putting two glasses down on the bar, instructing me to smell, as he began his eloquent education of rum versus Cachaça. Cachaça, pronounced Cacha-sza, is a five-century-old Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugar cane. Unlike rum, which is fermented with a processed sugar cane by product, aka molasses, Cachaça is fermented with fresh sugar cane juice, and the side-by-side difference is eye-opening. In terms of sweetness, think flavor from sucking on sugarcane, watery sweet and a woody finish.
After attending college for graphic design in Mexico City, the Vera Cruz native who juggled bartending and school chose the prior and never looked back. He now celebrates his 31st year as a bartender realizing long ago, "I cannot be in an office, you know?"
In Mexico, he remembers working in a Brazilian bar, with only Cachaça in the well and jars of fruit on the bar as ingredients. Combinations are endless he explains. "It's always the best cocktail because you muddle the fruit in the moment."
When serving others, Suarez will focus on who is sitting across from him. "You cannot introduce the same kind of drink to everybody." He adds, "a sign of good bartender is being able to recognize your customer and what they need."
Trust me, everyone needs a Caiprinha. The classic cocktail, made with Cachaça, is a must when visiting Oporto Fooding House & Wine. Muddled fresh lime, piloncillo sugar syrup, it's loaded with the small crunchy fun ice too. Less acidic than a margarita, and less sweet than a mojito, the icy, fresh cocktail goes down nice and easy. A total game changer in terms of summertime drinks.
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Half of a lime cut in quarters
3/4 to 1 ounce of simple syrup (Oporto makes theirs 16:16:1 in ounces, cane sugar: water: piloncillo (dehydrated sugarcane juice))
2 ounces Cachaça (Recommend Leblon, the first premium Cachaça to be imported to the United States)
Muddle lime and simple syrup together well in a shaker. Add Cachaça and mix. Add crushed ice on top and flip over into the glass you are serving. Make each to order.
Shot of Advice: Be happy wherever you are, whatever you're doing.