Steve Luttmann founded Leblon Cachaça in 2005, and since then the brand has grown significantly in the U.S., helped in large part by the image of Brazil it portrays, a world of sexy, fun-loving people laughing, kissing, dancing, playing soccer, and somehow getting sexier through it all. Cachaça, of course, is a Brazilian liquor made from distilled sugarcane juice, which makes it similar to rhum agricole. It’s the base ingredient in the caipirinha, a cocktail that most bartenders secretly hate because it takes extra time and effort to make, with the muddling of the limes and sugar, and people rarely tip accordingly. It tastes great, though, and is one of the ingredients of the good life, as defined by Brazilians. Other ingredients of the good life can be found in Luttmann’s new book, How To Be a Brazilian, in which he highlights all the ways Brazilians do things better than, well, pretty much everybody.
The book is divided into 10 chapters, ranging from O Jeito Brasileiro (the Brazilian Way) and Praia (the Beach) to Paquerar & Namorar (Flirt & Love) and Comemorar (Celebrate). In each one, Luttmann, who has lived off and on in Brazil for more than a decade and is married to a Brazilian woman, describes the unique ways Brazilians go about their lives: their warm greetings, their casual attitude toward punctuality, their fierce passion for soccer, and their love for samba and great food.
It’s interesting and well-written, but you might not get past the photos, page after page of some of the most gorgeous people on the planet. But what’s especially attractive about these people–because let’s face it, there are good-looking people all over the world–is that they seem so friendly and inviting. They seem like they’d actually love to hang out with you, and maybe make out with you. New York has its stunners too, but they often project an icy wall around them, giving away nothing as you search for some kind of cue.
Luttmann makes it clear that being Brazilian isn’t about going to the beach and being good looking, at least not just that. "Brazilianness is a trait as easily recognizable in rural grandmas, middle-class third graders, urban street cleaners, and buttoned-up chief executives as it is in soccer legends and top models," he writes, though you won’t see any photos of grandmas or street cleaners in the book.
But that’s okay, because it’s as much fantasy as reality, and one that Luttmann has done well with as Leblon cements its place as the leading cachaça in the U.S. As Marcio, one of his Brazilian interview subjects, explains, "We know everything is going to be fine, because we know that God is Brazilian."
Check out the video below for more info, and buy the book if you’re so inclined. Or else mix yourself yourself a caipirinha, take a big sip, and then lie back and dream of Rio.