International drinks around Chicago

July 7, 2010 11:45:23 AM PDT
The World Cup is about to come to an end this weekend. So our Hungry Hound has been seeking out some of the world's greatest cups recently.

Chicago offers several ways to satisfy a thirst in many languages.

Whether you cheer for Jamaica's ginger beer or the refreshing agua frescas of Mexico, the world offers several great cups. Even though Brazil and Greece are not going to compete in the finals this weekend, their respective countries still offer cool drinks that can be enjoyed in Chicago, anytime of year.

The name is two-fold. Sushisamba in River North is absolutely committed to several Japanese dishes on its menu, including sushi. But the "samba" refers to its Brazilian home base, and that means a couple of favorite local drinks for soccer fans. The most popular libation is the caiparinha, which features the indigenous cachaca.

"Cachaca is a liquor made from sugar cane so, not a rum, but somewhat similar in character, unique to Brazil, really delicious," said chef Dan Tucker of Sushisamba Rio.

First, fresh limes are muddled together with sugar. Leblon cachaca is added to the glass, along with a bit of fresh lime juice. The drink is shaken with ice, poured and served immediately.

"Really light, nice, refreshing, crisp; good acid, a little bit of sweet a nice bite from the cachaca," Tucker said.

Another great drink from Brazil that's not alcoholic is the batida. Essentially, a fruit shake, featuring the acai berry, guava juice and milk.

"It's blended with ice and milk so you have that nice creaminess and richness that you get out of a milkshake, but it's not as heavy, not as cloying and sweet," said Tucker.

Over in Greektown, fans watch the games with interest and a jolt of caffeine at 9 Muses, where the frappe is the big attraction.

"Frappe is instant coffee, shaked, poured over ice, and you can have it sweet, milk or no milk. Especially in summertime in Greece, it's hot, so you drink frappe," said 9 Muses owner Yianni Theoharis.

The drink begins with spoonfuls of finely ground instant coffee and sugar, added to a glass with a bit of water in it.

"We use the powder; powder is the smoothest, and the most refined coffee. That's why we use that," Theoharis said.

The combination is blended in a mixer until frothy; a few cubes of ice are added to it, then an ounce or two of milk, and a little bit of water to top it off and even out the richness. The drink is popular throughout Greektown, but especially at 9 Muses, where they claim to have been the first in town to offer it. Like a gyro or a Greek salad, it goes hand in hand with World Cup fever.

"How can you not have frappe and the World Cup?" asked Theoharis.

On the subject of coffee drinks, one more worldly cup worth mentioning: the affogato from Italy -- ssentially espresso with a scoop of ice cream.

Sushisamba Rio
504 N. Wells St.
312-595-2300
www.sushisamba.com

9 Muses
315 S. Halsted
312-902-9922
www.9museschicago.com


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