Despite the popularity of samba and the “balada” here, I’ve only been out on the town a handful of times. My first few were laid back weekend afternoons at the boteco with Bruna or Tammy and some of their friends. This usually involves sharing a giant Coors-lite like beer from a bucket of ice in the middle of the table along with some fried appetizers. Although I love the camaraderie, this approach is particularly dangerous when there is no free tap water and the waiter is constantly refilling your glass from a seemingly endless supply of communal beers he is bringing to the table. Add to this the fact that you’re a gringa and everyone wants you to try a Caipirinha—Brazil’s national drink for stupid tourists—and you’re toast.
I have also had the pleasure of crashing several of Maisa and Bruna’s girls’ nights. Although they certainly don’t happen every week, “the girls” told me Brazilians will use anything as an excuse to celebrate. When a particularly rambunctious one happened to fall on my dad’s birthday, they assured me that they were most certainly celebrating him. I’m a bit skeptical, but I won’t begrudge an evening to drink wine and eat biscoito de polvilho and some of Bruna’s excellent cooking.
My experiences are few and I’m no alcohol expert, but in general, it seems that beer is the drink of choice at bars here, and there is really only a choice of two different companies, Brahma or Skol (and they are actually both owned by the same company). I’m told that microbrews do exist somewhere in Sampa, but most people are happy to partake in something relatively cheap and light that can be drunk in massive quantities. A friend told me that when they went to the US they were shocked by how little beer they could drink because it’s so heavy and hoppy. For my part, I was shocked to find that Tammy’s Guinness look-alike Brahma Black was actually extremely sweet and cream-based. Hops do not seem to have reached Brazil, and I am totally fine with that. What saddens me more is that I have yet to drink wine outside of the house. It is extremely expensive, and Brazilian wine is not considered to be very good. I think Maisa and Bruna usually bring back an Argentinian wine for upwards of R$25 instead.