Many visitors to Rio comment on the fact that, while the locals seem to drink beer as though it were water and caipirinha cocktails as though they were soft drinks, they rarely seem to get staggeringly drunk.
Part of this is down to dedicated practice, no doubt, but a large part is down to the fact that Cariocas (Rio locals) rarely drink socially without eating socially as well. It is rare for a house party to take place without a churrasco (barbeque) being the focal point, and it is rarer still to find a bar that does not sell food.
While you may not want to line your stomach with a traditional set lunch or dinner (usually meat, chicken or fish with rice, black beans, salad and fries), the ubiquitous bar snacks that are found at the city’s many botecos (neighborhood bars) make tasty companions to an ice cold beer.
Look out for bolinhos de bacalhau – little fried balls of cod, potato, onions and seasoning; kibe (a meat croquette) and, for the vegetarians, batatas calabresa (potato in chili and oil).
Pasteis (little pastries filled with anything from meat, beans or chicken to shrimp or soft cheese) are also delicious nibbles to share during a drinking session, and will help to keep the head swimming effects of those caipirinhas at bay.
For some of the best pasteis to be found in the city, try Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa – itself a fabulous example of the boteco as a social gathering point. Visit on a Sunday to see hordes of locals and visitors spilling outside this simple bar and onto the street outside.
Photo: Lucy Bryson