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Cachaça Comes on Strong

Move over, mojito: The caipirinha is the drink of the moment and its signature ingredient, the Brazilian spirit cachaça, is fueling other summer libations, too.

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Three new premium brands of cachaça: Leblon, Água Luca, and Cabana.   

Passion fruit, cucumber, and watermelon coolers  

Barmarché
14 Spring St., at Elizabeth St.; 212-219-2399
At this rustic corner eatery, vibrant libations complement the cheerful yellow bar. The watermelon cooler tastes more like the fresh puree than the Água Luca hidden within, and the viscous passion fruit cocktail containing triple sec makes for a snazzy margarita alternative. For a spin on the lime-heavy caipirinha, pear cactus puree adds an electric-red tint and a delicate bean-like aftertaste.


The Mistico  

The Bar Room at The Modern
9 W. 53rd St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves. 212-333-1220
The sleek modernist room abutting MoMA's restaurant sometimes serves a champagne cocktail that tops cachaça and elderflower off with bubbly. A still more refreshing option is the Mistico, a Leblon cocktail dominated by fizzy ginger beer with a hint of rosemary and tamarind as natural as the floral displays on the perpetually packed marble bar.


The Brazilian Wax and the Brazilian Sangria  

Carne Vale
46 Ave. B, between 3rd and 4th Sts.; 212-777-4686
The new rodizio from the owners of Le Souk is more São Paulo moderne than Rio beach-bum, and the cocktails follow suit: The Brazilian Wax has a fruity head of pineapple juice and a leathery finish of Cabana, while the syrupy, sweet sangria combines so much Água Luca with red wine that it may drive even those who came for the chill techno beats to seek sustenance in the buffet of salty grilled meats.

Churrascaria Tribeca
221 W. Broadway, between White and Franklin Sts.; 212-925-6969
When it comes to depth of selection, there's no beating the sexy sibling of Churrascaria Plataforma. The fifty flavors of caipirinha include blackberry, coconut, coffee, grape and peanut—whatever fresh natural ingredients are handy. Purists can straight-sip less ubiquitous cachaças such as GRM or Rochinha.

Maracuja' Bar and Grill
279 Grand St., between Roebling and Havemeyer Sts.; 718-302-9023
There isn't much novelty in Brazilian-born owner Charles Kaim's simple passion-fruit drink (he still uses Cachaça 51, a longtime national favorite). But if you're looking for casual tippling, you could do worse than this mid-century Williamsburg saloon with its lovely garden of trellises and foliage.


Acai caipirinha  

PM
50 Gansevoort St., between Washington and Greenwich Sts.; 212-255-6676
Vines now descend from the ceiling of this Meatpacking dance destination, and the new jungle vibe carries over to a caipirinha incorporating açai, an Amazon berry. The juice adds more color than flavor, but all those antixodiants can't hurt when you're in need of a late-night dance boost.


The Blood Orange Caipirinia Martini.  

Sapa
43 W. 24th St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves.; 212-929-1800
Beware: You're unlikely to taste the Água Luca in the impeccably fresh cocktails whipped up by mixologists Alex Ott and Miguel Aranda. Snag a seat at a breezy sidewalk table and try a blackberry caipirinha, an Asian Daiquiri flavored by blueberries and lychee juice, or a Luca Lemonade, which uses peach schnapps, apple pucker, and guava juice for a smooth, sweet sip.


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