Famed Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chão, with locations around the world, has unveiled its new Bar Fogo menu across all of their locations. This flavorful menu is meant to showcase their premier beverage offerings inspired by the best of the Brazilian cocktail world and their scrumptious small plate offerings. In honor of the unveiling, Swig Contributor Kristen Oliveri spoke with both Larry Johnson, CEO of Fogo de Chão and Neri Giachini, West Coast Regional Director, Fogo de Chão, to discuss the updates and how the bar menu seamlessly compliments the fine art of churrasco.
Q: What was and is your overall vision for Bar Fogo?
A: Larry Johnson, CEO of Fogo de Chão: When we first launched Bar Fogo back in 2014, it was as a direct response to feedback we’d been receiving from guests who were looking for a more casual way to enjoy the Fogo experience. Our culinary innovation team spent an entire year meticulously researching, experimenting and developing the Bar Fogo concept, which was first piloted in San Diego and New York before being rolled out system wide.
Our vision for the platform is and always has been two-fold: first, to offer a great opportunity for new guests to be introduced to the Fogo brand and, secondly, to give our current guests another fun way “to Fogo,” as we like to say. We’re always striving to stay ahead of changing trends in the way people dine today; from Millennials to “empty-nesters,” to diners who want more options for a night out – sometimes to sit at a table and enjoy a full formal dining experience, and sometimes to sit at the bar for a more casual option that delivers high-end food and cocktails at more accessible price points.
And, of course, we’re always innovating here at Fogo. The newly-expanded Bar Fogo menu that debuted earlier this year is our most significant bar menu innovation since we first arrived to the U.S. in 1997.
The Bar Fogo menu now features an array of new Brazilian Bites, Brazilian-inspired craft cocktails and South American wines as well as a happy hour offerings at attractive price points.
Q: You recently launched the happy hour at Bar Fogo. What can someone find on the menu?
A: Neri Giachini, West Coast Regional Director, Fogo de Chão
Our expanded Bar Fogo Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and features many of our new Bar Fogo menu items at price points everyone can appreciate – from $4 Brazilian Bites and beers to $6 South American wines and $8 Brazilian-inspired cocktails.
A few of our new Bar Fogo small plate items that can be found on our Happy Hour menu include braised beef rib sliders (Brazilian Xingu beer braised beef topped with caramelized onions and smoked provolone, served on a brioche bun), Brazilian empanadas (flaky pastry filled with seasoned picanha and onions served with chimichurri aioli for dipping) and garlic shrimp (four jumbo shrimp sautéed in garlic butter with sweet peppers and onions, served with passion fruit dipping sauce).
On the cocktail side, our hand-crafted caipirinhas are not to be missed – two of our guests’ favorites include the Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha (Fogo’s own private label silver cachaça mixed with hibiscus-infused syrup, fresh strawberries and lime for a tasty twist on Brazil’s national cocktail) and our Mango Habanero Caipirinha (limes, mangoes and habanero peppers muddled with silver cachaça for a sizzling kick).
Q: What does your wine list look like?
A: (Giachini) We have a unique, award-winning wine list that’s centered around South American wines. We’ve been honored to receive the Wine Spectator magazine Award of Excellence for eight consecutive years, due to our commitment to working with quality producers, compiling a diverse list of tastes and complementing our menu with each selection. In selecting wines for our restaurants, we place special emphasis on the unique culture of South American winemaking, and in addition to tastings and training for our entire team, each restaurant has at least one level one sommelier, operating on such a high level that they can help every guest find that perfect pairing for any occasion.
Q: What are some of your favorite wines to pair with steak?
A: (Giachini) One of our guests’ favorite pairings is our filet mignon with our private label Fogo de Chão Gran Reserva Malbec, or our signature Picanha with a robust Bordeaux-style Chilean blend like Almaviva. With a single sip of our Malbec, notes of sweet cherry, rich plum and tart blackberry excite the palate with a balanced acidity that just perfectly pairs with the masterfully grilled, tender filet mignon. The combination of savory and robust flavors is simply not to be missed. And, of course, a glass of our Malbec is available for only $6 during our Bar Fogo Happy Hour.
Q: What is your favorite cocktail on the menu?
A: (Giachini) It’s so hard to choose, but one of my all-time favorites is our Caramelized Pineapple Old Fashioned. The cocktail was originally introduced in 2015 as a limited time only offering but became such an instant hit that we brought it back as part of our spring menu in early 2016. Now it has a permanent home on our Bar Fogo menu.
Our original take on a classic, the Caramelized Pineapple Old Fashioned features fresh spring pineapple, caramelized and muddled with orange and decadent Luxardo gourmet maraschino cherries that brilliantly enhance the caramel notes of Bulleit Rye Whiskey. The cocktail pairs perfectly with our tender, slow-roasted beef ribs, whether as part of the full churrasco experience here at Fogo or in slider form on our Bar Fogo menu.
Q: What is your favorite guilty pleasure cocktail?
A: (Giachini) The Caipirinha, though there’s not too much guilt, as it’s one of the world’s original craft cocktails (and the national cocktail of Brazil). It’s hard to say no to a Caipirinha, as it’s so easy to drink. Plus, with our newly launched craft cocktails, there are a lot of new ways to experience this spirit.
Q: What spirits do you like to play with?
A: (Giachini) Cachaça – there’s a reason why it’s Brazil’s most popular spirit! We love coming up with new cocktails that feature cachaça and we believe we’re using it in ways unlike any other steakhouse or restaurant. Fogo actually features its own private label cachaça, direct from Brazil, in all of our restaurants. Our new craft caipirinhas are truly something you can experience nowhere other than Fogo. Our Mango Habanero and Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinhas are already proving to be guest favorites.
Q: What’s next for you and for Bar Fogo Programming?
A: (Giachini) We believe that this is only the beginning for Bar Fogo. We’re piloting some additional food menu items in several of our restaurants throughout the United States and we’re also working with the team in Brazil to expand their Bar Fogo concept as well. Our guests from around the world have come to enjoy Fogo de Chão because it is both fun and innovative; Bar Fogo allows us a great opportunity to continue to build on that while staying true to our Brazilian roots.