22 degrees south

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am
 

If you're wondering why the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro are better at organising carnivals than we are, just look at the difference in what's produced with sugar cane.

In Hong Kong we extract the juice and drink it for a sugar rush to get us through a working day or a Mong Kok shopping spree.

In Brazil, they distil it to make the great rum-like party drink cachaca. Before 1888, Portuguese slave owners were likely to give a rot-gut version of the drink to their charges as they believed it made the workers toil harder.

In more enlightened times, connoisseurs sip barrel-aged versions of the spirit, said to be as complex as a single malt whisky.

Everyday versions are the basis for the muddled lime and sugar cocktail, caipirinha.

'Everyday' isn't a concern at the recently opened Star Street restaurant The Principal. You can get an idea of just how high-end the bar is when you note that even the marc, France's answer to grappa, is a Domaine de la Romanee Conti priced at HK$400 a glass.

While the wines are listed in an atlas, the signature cocktails show their global reach through their names, which are given in degrees of latitude.

Linking drinks from the same latitude can produce some unusual sounding combinations. The 36 degrees north combines East India Solera sherry and Belvedere citrus vodka, leaving the drinker as fortified as the first ingredient.

Its cousin, the 22 degrees south, celebrates Rio de Janeiro with a drink that is fresh and zesty and balanced by tannic black tea. This may not have you out on the street, be-sequinned and shaking your tail feathers, but it can certainly take the rough edges off a harsh day.

Recipe

60ml cachaca

30ml green Chartreuse

30ml Cointreau

15ml lime juice

15ml black tea syrup

2 dashes of aromatic bitters

30ml egg whites (one medium egg)

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker, shake well and strain into a martini glass.

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22 degrees south

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