Quentão (Cachaça's Grog)

"Quentão " is a traditional "Festas Juninas" (winter party) grog cocktail, especially in the South Region, the coldest area of Brazil. Its irresistible scents combine sweet and spicy notes and it is traditionally served hot in small earthenware, ceramic or thick glass cups, which retain heat well. 
It is a very popular cocktail recipe in the rural areas, and probably made its first appearance in the hinterland of São Paulo and Minas Gerais states. In absence of formal information, one would assume that this recipe is a variation of European mulled wine and grog recipes, made with "cachaça", the Brazilian national sugar cane spirits. In the 18th and 19th Centuries the consumption of "cachaça" has become synonymous of "Brazilianness" against Portuguese domination. After the "Modern Art Week " of 1922 it becomes a symbol of Brazilian cultural autonomy. 
The word "quentão" is derived from "quente" which means hot, plus the augmentative suffix -"ão" (literally very hot). At the beginning of the 20th Century it came to designate the "drink made by boiling sugar cane spirits with sugar, ginger and cinnamon" (Alice Pereira Santos).  

Information sources: 
• Amadeu Amaral, "O Dialeto Caipira" in "Domínio Público". (accessed 02 Jan 2014). 
• "Cachaça de Minas e desenvolvimento rural: uma análise do Cooperativismo como impulso para o agronegócio". in Agência Emprapa de Informação Tecnológica. (accessed 30 Dic 2013) 
• Alice Pereira Santos, "Polissemia dos sufixos aumentativos" in Universidade de São Paulo. (accessed 02 Jan 2014)

Ingredients

  • • 250 ml cachaça (sugar cane brandy)
  • • 125 g sugar, approximately
  • • a piece of fresh peeled ginger, approximately 10 g
  • • 3 whole cloves, to your taste
  • • a cinnamon stick, to your taste
  • • half a lime, sliced, to your taste
  • • 250 ml boiling water

Preparation method

1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan melt the sugar slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon over a low heat until it turns to a light golden caramel colour. The colour of the caramel determines the colour of the "quentão". 
2. Add the ginger peeled and cut into slices, cloves, cinnamon, sliced lime and boiling water. Turn the heat to low and boil, stirring every so often, until the sugar is completely dissolved,  
3. Finally add the "cachaça", stir well and let simmer for about 5 minutes. If the "quentão" tastes too strong, add a little more of boiling water. 
4. Strain the grog through a sieve and serve very hot in small earthenware, ceramic or thick glass cups. 
5. It's best served immediately, but it can be made a few hours ahead and warmed up just before serving. 

Variant: add an orange peel or an sliced orange. 

Yield: approx. 6 servings.
Posted on: 11 January 2014
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