Want to learn more about mixology?

Sam La Duca is teaching two classes this summer through Central Oregon Community College, covering bar terminology, pouring techniques, how to create traditional and contemporary cocktails, history and characteristics of distilled spirits and more.

Mixology for Beginners: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 9-10 or Aug. 13-14. Cost is $99. Students must be 21 or older.

Information online: www.cocc.edu/community-learning

Cheers! It’s outdoor entertaining season — a good time to be more creative with the adult beverages you’ll be serving at home. Instead of just opening up the usual wine or beer, this is how you can cook like a chef while crafting some cocktails this summer.

With the 2016 Rio Olympic games starting Aug. 5, Cascade Culinary Institute restaurant management and mixology instructor Sam La Duca offered to show us how to make a couple of Brazilian-inspired cocktails using cachaça (pronounced “kah-SHAH-suh”), a rum made from sugarcane juice instead of molasses. It’s the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil.

“Cachaça has a fruitier taste than rum made from fermented molasses. And it’s in the range of $18 to $30 per bottle, a little more than a Captain Morgan or Bacardi brand, which are in the $14 range,” La Duca said.

He’s showing us two easy-to-make cocktails using cachaça: the Caipirinha (pronounced “kie-purr-REEN-yah”), considered Brazil’s national drink, and a blended version of a Batida (“buh-TEE-duh”), a cold, fruity smoothie that gets its creaminess from coconut.

La Duca said what’s fun about the Caipirinha and Batida is that they’re refreshing and different. The Batida can be finished with a rim of shredded coconut, dyed green to reflect the color of the Brazilian flag.

“You can be creative with your drink garnishes. The presentation of a cocktail is extremely important. It brings the drink to life. I hope you’ll be creative this summer with so many options available with fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs. Don’t make your routine drinks all summer,” La Duca said.

Craft a Caipirinha

The caipirinha is simple to make. First, make a simple syrup (see recipe), which is simply cooked sugar water.

Add lime wedges and cooled simple syrup to an old fashioned-style glass and muddle the limes.

“Having the basic tools like a muddler and buying old fashioned glasses is fun. It’s good to have four glasses of different styles on hand. I recommend basic highball glasses, 8 to 10 oz., for the “and” drinks: scotch and soda, gin and tonic, bourbon and water, rum and Coke,” La Duca said.

Muddle the lime wedges for at least 10 seconds to release the juice and oils, but don’t overdo it.

“Do not macerate or you risk making it a bitter drink from the flavor in the rind. If you don’t own a muddler, I recommend a plastic one. Wooden ones, like wooden cutting boards, can grow bacteria. Plastic holds up better, “ La Duca said.

You can use the back of a spoon as a muddler, but it may scratch your glasses.

Crushed ice goes on top of the limes and simple syrup, and then cachaça is poured on top.

“Stir for 10 to 20 seconds to mix the rum in. You really want to mix it well. If you don’t, when you put a straw in it, you’ll get the sugary content towards the bottom, and when you sip it from the top, you’ll just get the strong alcohol taste. Mixing the right amount is really important,” La Duca emphasized.

You may be tempted to shake this cocktail in a Boston shaker, but don’t.

“The Caipirinha is a build-and-stir drink,” La Duca said.

Blend a Batida

The Batida is a frozen fruit smoothie for adults. Some Batidas are not made in a blender, but La Duca thinks it’s much better that way.

You can make your own fruit puree for this cocktail or buy frozen fruit puree. La Duca prefers the Perfect brand and likes to make a passion fruit Batida.

“You can use any fruit you want. It can be made with raspberries, peaches, mango is a popular one, pineapple. If you make your own fruit puree, add some sugar to it. Even when making something like a strawberry daiquiri, it’s good to enhance the flavor with a strawberry liquor or simple syrup to enhance the sugar,” La Duca said.

The Batida’s ingredients go into a blender and then are garnished. That’s it.

To decorate the rim of the Batida cocktail, put a plate or some plastic wrap on the counter, pour out some coconut cream or sweetened condensed milk, and move the rim of the glass on it to get the edge covered, and then dip the rim in finely shredded coconut. To be festive for the Olympics, La Duca suggested dying the shredded coconut green to match the Brazilian flag.

We hope you’ll have fun creating some new cocktails this summer. If you’d like to learn more about mixology, La Duca is teaching two sessions about the topic through COCC’s Community Learning classes.

“What differentiates the bartender from the mixologist is the creative side. When you’re a mixologist, it’s like you’re a chemist, using different beakers, tasting different liquors mixed with different herbs and fruits and cordials and finding out what complements each other. Just like in the kitchen with food, you’re seeing what mixes well, what colors it creates and what flavors are going to complement the dish. Be creative and experiment. You could be the next inventor of a famous cocktail! You just have to play with it,” he said. “It’s all about experimenting.”

— Reporter: ahighberger@ mac.com

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