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A Winter Wonder

Houston Chronicle

A Winter Wonder. The quentao is a drink that befits cooler weather. It's mid-June and you're wrapped in a colorful coat, sitting next to a roasting balefire, humming to the music and slinging your wine around in a mug. Homeless in Seattle? Nope. Enjoying a winter festival in Brazil, more likely. Festa Junina, a Catholic celebration of saints John, Paul and Anthony, is high season for the seasonal drink quentao (Portuguese for "big heat"). But a winter tipple in Texas won't cost you the $900 roundtrip airfare. Just head out Westheimer to Fogo de Chao. Fogo opened in 2000, but this is the first cold season it's featured the spiced-wine jewel. "We'd have it next to a big fire, outside," manager Adao Giovanaz said. "When I was little, I remember my parents saying, 'Not for you.'" Also enjoyed after dinner as an alternative to liqueured coffees, the quentao resembles mulled wine. The kicker is rum's rambunctious brother, cachaca. Distilled from sugarcane juice, the unaged, clear cachaca is perfect for combining and cocktailing--never more so than in this recipe. Aged cachaca varies in color and depth and is best on the rocks or neat. The cloves bond with the stewed fruits, and the Cointreau adds that extra, indelible finish. And I swear I tasted a hint of vanilla. Then again, I was on my second one.


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