Get to know Patrick Janelle – co-founder of Spring Street Society and the Liquor Cabinet, and the man behind the blog A Guy Named Patrick – as he shares his experience of capturing Rio de Janeiro on film, discovering the cities hidden gems and learning the secret to making the perfect caipirinha.
What attracted you about Rio de Janeiro? How have you enjoyed capturing it on film?
Most ideas I’ve had of Rio de Janeiro come from mid-century pop culture: images of Bridget Bardot posing near the beach or the sounds of Bossa Nova classics. There’s always been a sort of nostalgic glamour that has captivated me about the city. But I also love modern images, like Ipanema beach as captured by Mario Testino.
There are so many iconic images of the city that finding my own perspective was both a challenge and a thrill. While I often shoot my images on my iPhone, for this trip, I wanted to push my limits and use my professional camera. I’m still learning the more technical side of photography, and the colours, light, people, and energy of the city have provided incredible subjects to do that.
What has surprised you most about the city since your arrival?
Before I arrived, a number of people warned me to be careful. It could be dangerous, they said. I even met a Brazilian girl while travelling in Europe recently, and she offered her own few tips on deflecting attention, like not wearing flashy clothes or branding. I took her advice, but even so, I was really surprised at how safe and friendly the city seemed to be. Not once did I feel uneasy about my surroundings.
For readers hoping to follow in your footsteps, what ‘must-dos’ would you have for the city?
Tijuca Forest is an urban rainforest, inside Rio’s city limits. Within it is the Cachoeira do Horto, a waterfall with a little pool below it. If you take a 15-minute hike above the Cachoeira do Horto you’ll encounter an even more picturesque fall, with a pool that is deep enough to swim in — and take gorgeous photos, of course. Also, be sure to stop by the incredible Jardim Botânico, which lies at the foot of the park.
One of my favourite dining experiences was at a tiny Italian/Brazilian restaurant called Flor do Ceu. It’s located inside a compact favela, and you get there on foot via a maze of narrow concrete steps and pathways. The chef is an Italian expat who makes fresh pasta daily, and the kitchen and dining area are open air, overlooking the coastline down below.
There’s always been a sort of nostalgic glamour that has captivated me about the city. But I also love modern images, like Ipanema beach as captured by Mario Testino.
You set up the Liquor Cabinet app with your brothers in 2015, so it’s safe to say you know your way around a cocktail! Do you have a favourite recipe for our signature cocktail: the caipirinha?
While I know my way around a cocktail or two, I had no idea how many producers of cachaça — the rum-like spirit that is the base of a caipirinha — there are. Even in the small, local bars, there were many low shelves crammed with dozens of these bottles.
I’m accustomed to the classic recipe: a mix of cachaca, lime, and sugar. Many cafés will offer a menu of caipirinhas, the variation being that each is made with a different cachaça. But in general, the recipe always stays the same, though some places will offer other flavours like the passionfruit caipirinha, which I fell in love with. But for the quintessential recipe, you’ll have to check out my app—it’s free for the iPhone!
How would you describe your ideal wardrobe for Rio de Janeiro?
Obviously, the beach is the centrepiece for much of the city, so a good bathing suit is a must. Beyond that, lightweight fabrics with silhouettes that can be casual or dressed up slightly. I wore lots of linen and I packed one chunky, drapey cotton sweater for when the day got a little cooler.
Brazil has an incredible mix of food culture and local ingredients! Have you discovered any new food favourites during your trip?
I had never had feijoada before this trip. If you’ve never had it, it’s this super hearty, comforting stew that has a base of beans and is filled with bits of pork. It’s essentially the national dish of Brazil and is served with a crumbly topping made from cassava root flour — sort of like fine breadcrumbs.
One of the best places to get feijoada is at a local, old-school bar in the hilly, quiet neighbourhood of Santa Teresa called Bar do Mineiro.