Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cachaça Time

One of my first real adventures in spirits last year involved the discovery of cachaça. For those of you who haven't heard of cachaça before, it's a sugarcane-based liquor made in Brazil. In contrast to rum (with the exception of rhum agricole, but that's another matter), which is made from molasses, cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is then fermented and distilled. There are also Brazilian laws regulating factors such as the ABV that cachaça is distilled at and bottled. These factors all contribute to the unique flavor profile of cachaça.

I don't remember exactly how I stumbled upon the first article I read about cachaça, but for some reason I was instantly intrigued. After a bit of searching, I ended up a Cachaçagora, a blog dedicated to all things cachaça. My interest stoked, I end up getting a bottle of Boca Loca cachaça for a little over $20. Not half bad for what amounted to an impulse purchase.

The place to start with cachaça is the caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil*. While it took a few false starts to perfect the technique (the trick is to cut off the ends of the lime and the central pith), my first proper caipirinha was nothing short of an epiphany. My first thought was "I want to sit on the beach and drink these forever". The sugarcane and vegetal notes of the cachaça are balanced by the sour flavor of the lime and smoothed by the sugar. Sadly I had to get up early the next morning, so moderation was exercised, but they are one of the truly perfect drinks that I've ever enjoyed.

More importantly, cachaça eventually became my entrance to the world of rum...

In the meantime, here's a caipirinha variation I made last night. It needs a little tweaking, but I was rather pleased with the results given that I had semi-randomly thrown things together.

Sagatiba Sunset
2 oz. Sagatiba Velha cachaça
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
~6 cranberries
5 mL Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters
0.5 oz simple syrup

Muddle lime wedges and cranberries with simple syrup. Add cachaça and bitters, shake with ice and double strain into a chilled glass.

*The Brazilian government has gone so far as to codify the recipe for the caipirinha into law.

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