Mucilage Never Tasted So Good – Cacao Juice

Cacao juice tastes like nectar. Indeed, the Latin name for cacao is “theobroma” or “food of the gods”.  To learn more, you can read the wikipedia entry of this blog. In Peru, this juice is called “mucilage” which is the technical term for the white pulp that surrounds the beans inside the cacao pods.

I first tried this juice at Kjolle (co-located with Central), Pia Leon’s restaurant. It was a hot summer day and sitting in the tall open sheltered space of Kjolle was a respite from the bleeping traffic outside. While Kjolle makes many other fancy drinks, this unassuming looking drink (it has a watery whitish tinge) was a revelation. It tasted a bit like lychee, mangosteen, or green apples, but had a taste all magically its own.

The other place where I have tried it was at Maido. Their version was in a Gin and Tonic cocktail. I asked if they could make me a mocktail. They did. The presentation was beautiful and their version of this drink was thicker, so more like mucilage, than at Kjolle. People remarked that it would make a good dessert. It was a longer relationship drink as well because of the thickness and richness. They served it with a side visual of theobroma and its cousin the majambo/macambo bean which is whitish in color.

Majambo can also be roasted and eaten. It has a mild nutty flavor. I first tried them at El Cacaotal in Barranco. Since I wrote the blog posting about El Cacaotal two years ago, that store has moved and blossomed. It is a lovely place to just chillax.

On a side note, a friend was planning to make some cacao juice and it made me wonder how ones does that. There is a whole process which can be read about here. As this site mentions, there is already a company that sells packaged cacao juice, so I see it becoming more and more commonplace. Having looked up a recipe on Google, I’m not sure that it entails more than extracting the fruit, maybe blending it for consistency, and then putting through a strainer (this is the method for making juice here in Latin America).

Secret Bar in Bogota with Hand Crafted Cocktails

IMG_3325*******Update: The location has changed! It’s now in the neighborhood of Quinta Camacho. Calle 69A, #10-05. *********

Yes, it’s a speakeasy, not illegal, but kept a secret like back in the days of prohibition. Yes, it has no name. Yes, it’s not well known yet…

IMG_3339The craft cocktails are good. That’s the important thing. The drinks have names like “J Bird” and “Shi-taque” and “Ayguey” (or something like that) and other cleverness. The drinks are gin or whiskey based with infusions and chartreuse as ingredients. They are refreshing, strong, and delicious. The bartender takes great care making the drinks as he mixes, shakes, squirts, dusts, and coddles the drinks (Plus, he has a magnificent beard).

It’s the kind of place where one can hear oneself, and ones friends talk (although it’s so dark you may not be able to see them) because the music is blues or other old school music played loud enough to enjoy but not so loud that you have to yell. The two booths have chains which activate a red light when you want to call for service (so you get to yank their chain). Fresh water is always served with the drinks to make sure that you won’t be hung over the next day.

IMG_3342The location has changed! It’s now in the neighborhood of Quinta Camacho. Calle 69A, #10-05. No longer secreted behind the Pan Asian food restaurant, Thom Ngon, on top of Xarcuteria near Parque 93. Go up the stairs and ring on the doorbell. Someone will open the little window (just like in the prohibition movies) and let you in. Maybe. The owner says that he wants this place to stay secret and hidden so that only those who like a good hand crafted drink will hear about this place by word of mouth. He says that he doesn’t want the meat market “seen scene” (my description) types here. We shall see.IMG_3340Unlike the other speakeasy, this place does not have food or snacks. Yet. Our waiter, Jesus, told us that snacks like peanuts or albondigas (meatballs) will be coming soon.

But no fish fillet sandwich… which some of us wanted… did I mention that the drinks are strong?