United Nations of Cocktails Series, Part 1

It's easy to fall into a familiar routine when it comes to cocktails, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. A favorite cocktail can provide a welcome treat at the end of a long day, it can provide the social lubricant that enables a connection with someone else, or it can help to mark a special occasion. Once in a while, however, it's nice to break out of the routine and work to expand your repertoire by tasting some unfamiliar things.
Our "United Nations of Cocktails" series highlights the national drinks and spirits of countries from around the world, and—in doing that—we hope to inspire your curiosity and creativity when it comes to making your own cocktails at home or ordering them while out.
Some of the spirits we describe will probably sound familiar; others will be totally new. No matter what the spirit or drink is, it is likely used in each country to create a cocktail that is both unique and reflective of a wonderful culture.
Rum is the national spirit of Venezuela, and a special rum punch called Guarapita is the unofficial national cocktail of the country. This sweet, fruity punch is typically the first alcoholic drink a young Venezuelan imbibes as part of their rite of passage to adulthood.


        • 1 (750ml) bottle of rum (Venezuelan: Santa Teresa Añejo)
          • 1 liter of passion fruit juice
            • 1 liter of orange juice
              • 1 ½ cups of grenadine
                • 8 limes, each cut into 8 pieces
                  • Spearmint leaves
                        • Mix all the liquid ingredients in a large punch bowl with lots of ice. Squeeze the lime sections for juice and then toss the pieces into the bowl. To serve, pour punch into a cup or glass, and garnish with a few pieces of slapped spearmint.


                        Brazil's national cocktail is the Caipirinha, which is made with Brazil's national spirit cachaça (also known as pinga or caninha), a sugarcane-based liquor. A classic Caipirinha is made by muddling fresh limes and sugar together, then adding the liquor.  Cachaça can be used in cocktails with a wide variety of other spirits, including gin, tequila, rye whiskey, and cognac, but it's most often used as an ingredient in fruity, tropical concoctions.

                        Cachaça, which has been made in Brazil for hundreds of years, is similar to rum in that its base is sugarcane, but it has a flavor all its own. Most rums are distilled from molasses, which is a byproduct of sugarcane processing. Cachaça, on the other hand, is distilled from the fermented juice of sugar cane. This important difference yields a spirit that is distinctly funky and grassy. These unique flavors make the Caipirinha stand out among sweet-and-sour cocktails.
                        The Caipirinha and its spirit base cachaça were relatively unknown outside Brazil for centuries. In recent decades, however, the cocktail and the spirit have become much more popular and more widely available, in large part due to the rising availability of first-rate brands of cachaça outside Brazil.


                              • 1 lime, cut into wedges
                                • 2 teaspoons sugar
                                  • 2 ounces cachaça
                                    • Garnish: lime wheel
                                          • In a double rocks glass, muddle the lime wedges and the sugar. Fill the glass with ice, add the cachaça, and stir briefly. Garnish with a lime wheel.

                                          Dawa (which means "medicine" or "magic potion" in Swahili) is the national drink of Kenya, even though it does not utilize the indigenous alcohol called Changaa, which is a popular spirit most Kenyans brew at home.
                                          The Dawa is a light refreshing citrusy cocktail that goes down exceptionally well in the African heat. The classic recipe is made with vodka, but, of course, we think it's even better with Batch 22! Kenyans are traditionally enthusiastic beekeepers, so the addition of honey in the recipe is not only delicious, it's also very fitting.


                                                • 1 tsp. Brown sugar
                                                • 1 Lime, quartered
                                                • 2 oz. Vodka (or Batch 22)
                                                • 1 tsp. Honey

                                                  Muddle the four wedges of lime with the sugar in a rocks glass. Add vodka/Batch and top with crushed ice.  Stir in the honey (the traditional method is to use a thick stick or wooden stirrer, but a spoon works just fine) to the desired sweetness level and remove stirrer. Garnish with a lime wheel.