The Dish: winter caipirinha
The Location: Dino, 3435 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 686-2966
The Price: $10
The Skinny: With its temperate climate and famous parade of bronzed females sporting little more than feathers and a flirty smile, Brazil is not the first place one typically turns to for wintertime inspiration. But, then again, Dino’s Chris Cunningham is not your typical mixologist. Some of his more inventive libations include such spirit-crushing ingredients as egg whites and a prickly pear purée. Cunningham’s winter caipirinha looks more like a Jack and Coke than the traditional (and now ubiquitous) Brazilian cocktail. It also doesn’t taste much like a caipirinha, which ideally balances its sweet and sour flavors. Cunningham’s wintry blend leans hard on the sweet stuff—brown-sugar syrup, marinated cherries, and, of course, cachaça, the spirit distilled from fermented sugar-cane juice. After I take my initial sips, I ask Cunningham if the drink is supposed to be so front-loaded with sugar. He hears the question as criticism and generously offers to add more lime. I back-pedal like a high-school suck-up and clarify that I like the drink, but just want to know about its balance. Cunningham confirms that his concoction purposely favors the flavor of molasses, which warms up the drink and “give it an edge.” My palate ignores this alleged edge and focuses instead on the cocktail’s softer, more intangible comforts—the memory of chomping the heads off molasses-rich gingerbread men after waterboarding these doomed dough boys in milk.