Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Carnaval at Café Atlántico

‘Cotton Candy Mojito’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

On Tuesday I was an invited guest at Café Atlántico for the restaurant’s special Carnaval Celebration Menu. I arrived early and found myself at the bar talking to one of the bartenders about the restaurant’s cocktails, and this seemed to set the tone for the night (surprised?). I could happily have sat at the bar all night, sipping excellent cocktails and talking to the bartenders about various spirits (want to out yourself as a cocktail nerd? Ask them about that bottle of Falernum and how it compares to the one you have at home, not to mention the house-made stuff at PX).

This being a dinner and all, the Social Chair and I were eventually escorted to a table with Lisa Shapiro of Dining in DC and Rachel Tepper of The Feast, along with their guests. We ordered another round of drinks and made our selections from the special menu.   Continue reading

Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Daily Feed

Café Atlántico Celebrates Carnaval

The Caipirinha
The Caipirinha
by Samer Farha

Although chef José Andrés has yet to respond to my offer to judge a Gin and Tonic showdown (which still stands) it’s worth noting that tonight from 4-6, there’s a free cachaça tasting at Café Atlántico. It’s the first event in the restaurant’s Brazilian Carnaval, which culminates next Tuesday with a three-course, prix fixe dinner, samba performance, and dance party. If you’re looking for a different sort of Mardi Gras experience, you could do worse than Carnaval.

If you’re not familiar with it, cachaça, a spirit distilled from raw sugarcane, can be considered a cousin of Rhum Agricole, which itself is not to be confused with other types of rum distilled from molasses. Like rum, it can be light or dark depending on the process and aging. Unlike rum, cachaça has up to six grams per liter of added sugar. Confused? Afraid? Don’t be. If you like rum, you’ll probably like cachaça too. The classic cocktail featuring cachaça is a caipirinha. In its purest expression, it is a sipping cocktail consisting of little more than muddled lime and sugar, crushed ice, and cachaça, in an old fashioned glass. Some bartenders serve theirs in a Collins (tall) glass, topped with soda, which makes an excellent refresher in warm weather.

Tonight at Café Atlántico you can sample two different brands of cachaça: from Leblon, casked in Cognac barrels, and Novo Fogo, whose silver cachaça is rested in steel tanks so it is still white. Also part of its Carnaval celebration, the restaurant hosts a capoeira demonstration on Sunday and the aforementioned dinner on Tuesday. Reservations are recommended for the weekend and required for Tuesday night’s dinner.

I’ll be there Tuesday night to lean on Chef Andrés personally on the matter of his bar’s gin and tonic. Oh, and to try the food. I’ll report back on that subject next week.