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THE FIVE

This Week: Caipirinhas

June 19, 2008|Katherine Tulich

Despite its tongue-twisting name, this Brazilian import, which muddles cachaca (distilled from sugar cane) with lime and sugar, is fast becoming the drink du jour, as restaurants pair it with a variety of cuisines.

ORTEGA 120

This newly opened beachside restaurant serves its own caipirinha de fruta with frozen peaches and peach schnapps. It teams handily with Ortega's modern Mexican cuisine, such as bite-size tacos de atun crudo with ahi tuna, jicama and mango salad, and ceviche de tilapia. "The fresh flavors go brilliantly with the clean fruity flavor of the drink," says owner Demi Stevens. 1814 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach. (310) 792-4120

KUMO

It may not be an automatic match, but this high-end Japanese eatery adds yuzu citrus to its caipirinhas. The slightly sour bite of the Japanese fruit provides accompaniment to yellowtail with tri-color jalepeno and, on the meatier side, with Colorado rack of lamb pan-seared with yuzu soy, or roasted chicken breast with yuzu pepper sauce. 8360 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. (323) 651-5866

AGORA CHURRASCARIA

Traditional Brazilian churrasco at this prix fixe all-you-can-eat restaurant means you can keep the 15 kinds of pit-fired meat coming as the caipirinhas are flowing. And if you're worried about cholesterol, there's the acai caipirinha, which adds the Brazilian antioxidant super-berry to the mix. 1830 Main St., Irvine. (949) 222-9910

BAR NINETEEN12

This recently renovated addition to the venerable Beverly Hills Hotel has launched a new light bites summer and drinks menu. It includes the Asian-inspired "Thaipirinha," which adds basil, making it a nice complement to gourmet appetizers such as himachi sashimi and Vietnamese salad rolls with shrimp, avocado and cucumber. "It really gives the caipirinha a new direction," says bar manager Philip Spee. Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 273-1912

AMARANTA COCINA MEXICANA

These caipirinhas are made with a traditional Brazilian Ypioca cachaca and brown sugar. "The brown sugar takes the bite out," says manager Frank Tognotti, as does the Reverse Happy Hour between 10 and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Drinks are half-priced and offered with a selection of traditional tacos. Westfield Topanga Mall, 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park. (818) 610-3599

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theguide@latimes.com

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