You’re watching the World Cup, and the important question is not what tactical formation Nigeria’s coach is employing, but what drink you’re deploying. I propose a few humble cocktail suggestions over the course of eight posts — one for each group, inspired by the teams battling to escape said group.
What are my criteria for these cocktails? In the end, it comes down to what I’d want to drink… and what I will drink, since none of these recipes will go untasted. It’s a selfless act, I know. Also, my morning self will need a lot of coffee this next week.
In general, though, cocktails will take the one of three forms:
- A national cocktail, or a drink strongly associated with one or more teams
- A cocktail taking inspiration from a team’s name or colors
- A cocktail utilizing ingredients from one or more teams’ countries
For the Group A cocktails, I’ll do one of each of the above three. The cocktails will cover the group consisting of Brazil, Cameroon, Mexico, and Croatia. The natural starting point is the national drink that you cannot escape this World Cup: the Caipirinha. If you’ve seen any feature story about the culture of host country Brazil, you’ve likely seen someone mention this refreshing, rustic, and simple drink:
Half a lime, cut into quarters
½ oz – simple syrup
2 oz – cachaça
In a shaker, muddle the limes and simple syrup. Add cachaça, add ice, and shake. Pour directly into an empty rocks glass — DO NOT STRAIN. No need for garnish.
This is pretty much the standard recipe, with one exception. Traditionally, the sweetness in this cocktail is courtesy of sugar – granulated, superfine, turbinado, what have you. I prefer simple syrup (which is just sugar + water), as you don’t need to worry about a grainy cocktail with undissolved sugar. Making your own simple syrup also lets you adjust the sugar type & proportion to tailor it to your own preferences.
If you were afraid of new things, you could sub out cachaça for vodka to make a Caipiroska, or… y’know what? Nah. Go with the cachaça, just this once. Try it. It’s a simple drink, and the light & sweet cachaça is the perfect drink to accompany the sweet soccer antics of A Seleção.
For the second cocktail in this group, I’m going down the path of inspiration taken from a team’s name or colors. The Cameroon‘s national team is the Indomitable Lions, which sounds like a great name for a cocktail. Scanning the CocktailDB, there is a “lion” cocktail that catches my eye, the Red Lion. Let’s go with that one:
Indomitable (Red) Lion
1 oz – London dry gin
1 oz – Grand Marnier (or GM Natural Cherry, if you’re strange like me)
½ oz – fresh orange juice
½ oz – fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled & sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.
You’ll note that this is almost verbatim the recipe as presented by cocktail guru David Wondrich, because, well, it’s David goddamned Wondrich. He’s done his homework. The only change I made is the substitution of Grand Marnier Natural Cherry, but that’s because I’m biased towards the combination of orange & cherry. This is the beauty of cocktails — as long as you keep the balance, you can tweak recipes to match your tastes, or the tastes of whomever you’re mixing for.
The one exception to this tweaking is the juice — use fresh-squeezed juice. Do it. Do not resort to RealLemon or OJ from a bottle, or you’ll be wondering why your cocktails taste like an 0-1 loss. Don’t let scurvy happen to you: mix with fresh juice.
PSA achieved, we arrive at our third & final cocktail, which fills the third & final style of cocktail I mentioned above. We’re going to play at a recipe that touches upon the teams of Mexico and Croatia. Sure, I could mix together tequila & slivovitz, but that sounds like a terrible idea. What if we go with a different agave spirit from Mexico, like that smoky Oaxacan liquor, mezcal? Or if we turn our attention to Croatia as the home of my favorite fruit, the Marasca cherry?
Combining these items might look something like this:
La Ultima Palabra
1 oz – mezcal
¾ oz – green Chartreuse
¾ oz – maraschino liqueur
¾ oz – fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the hopes of making it out of this group in the #2 spot.
Savvy cocktail nerds (or those fluent in Spanish) will notice this is a variation on The Last Word, but with mezcal taking the place of gin. This is a variation that’s caught the attention of a lot of folks. And for good reason: it is unbelievably delicious (and undeniably boozy). Smoky, herbal, balanced, this cocktail hits all the spots my tongue wants it to hit. This cocktail goes down easier than a striker in the penalty area.
Stay tuned for Group B, where I get weird. Grog, sherry, pisco… Oh yes, you’ll want to be there.