3 classic Latin American cocktails to add sizzle to your summer

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Each year when summer rolls around and the mercury starts rising, so too does our thirst for light and refreshing cocktails. Our Latin American friends have been perfecting warm weather cocktails long before most of us northerners had even heard of spirits like cachaca, tequila and pisco, so why not steal a few moves from their playbook?

Here are three classic cocktails from our neighbours to the far south that you should be mixing up this summer:

1. Caipirinha

Photo: Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor/Vancity Buzz

This simple Cachaca-based cocktail is up there amongst my all-time favourites. Cachaca, the official spirit of Brazil, is often confused with rum but there’s a quintessential difference in how the two are produced. While rum is distilled from molasses, a by-product of refined sugar, Cachaca is distilled from pure sugarcane juice, giving it an earthier flavour that’s somewhat similar to brandy. It’s often said in Brazil that “the worse the Cachaca, the better the Caipirinha” — it’s oddly true!

Ingredients

  • 2.0 oz Cachaca 61
  • 1 whole lime (using a whole lime will add the flavour of the zest, and should yield about one ounce of juice)
  • 1 tsp Raw Sugar
  • Ice

Method

  • Roll the lime between your hands to soften the flesh. Remove the tips of the lime and cut into 8 equal wedges.
  • Place lime wedges and sugar into a cocktail shaker, and muddle to extract juice and dissolve sugar.
  • Add Cachaca and top with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
  • Empty the entire contents from the shaker to an old fashioned glass and enjoy immediately.

2. Margarita

Photo: Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor/Vancity Buzz

While the Margarita may or may not have originated in Mexico, one thing is for certain — you can’t make a Margarita without tequila. Tequila is distilled from the blue agave plant and comes in five different categories depending on how long it’s been aged: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo. I urge you to experiment with different types of tequilas to find one that best suits your palate, but remember that there are plenty of good quality options at lower price points, so you don’t have to break the bank. Just be sure to purchase tequilas with 100% pure agave, otherwise they’ll contain artificial ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2.0 oz Hornitos Reposado Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • 0.25 oz Agave Nectar
  • 1.0 oz Lime Juice
  • Ice
  • Orange Zest
  • Salt

Method

  • Using a lime wedge, wet half the rim of an old fashioned glass, dip it in salt and add fresh ice.
  • In a cocktail shaker add ice, tequila, Cointreau, agave and lime and shake vigorously.
  • Strain cocktail over ice and garnish with an orange twist.

3. Pisco Sour

Photo: Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor/Vancity Buzz

It’s passionately debated between Chileans and Peruvians who invented Pisco, but whoever it was, we thank them graciously. One of the most underrated and under-utilized spirits in the cocktail community, Pisco is a type of brandy distilled from grapes and has been in production since the 17th century. Often used as a table spirit for sipping, it wasn’t until the 1920s — at Morris’ Bar in Lima, Peru — that the Pisco Sour was invented.

Ingredients

  • 2.0 oz Encanto Pisco
  • 0.5 oz Lime Juice
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup (raw or pasteurized)
  • 0.75 oz Egg White
  • 3 dashes Amargo Chuncho Bitters (Angostura will work too)

Method

  • Add all ingredients, except the bitters, to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice for 10 seconds.
  • Add ice to the shaker, and shake vigorously again for 15 seconds.
  • Using a hawthorne strainer and a fine mesh sieve, pour the cocktail to a pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a few drops of bitters on top of the egg white foam.

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SEE ALSO: The Daiquiri: 3 inspired twists on a warm-weather classic (RECIPES)

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About the author

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Justin Taylor A renowned bartender and cocktail creator, Justin Taylor has been a fixture in the industry in both Toronto and Vancouver for the better part of two decades. As Bar Manager at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, located at the iconic Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver, Justin continues to stir up the Vancouver bartending scene with a heady mix of knowledge, panache, wit and hospitality.
@taylormixology

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