Cachaca, the Spirit of Brazil

The Brazilian spirit cachaca is the lifeblood of its people and  the Caipirinha is the drink that made it one of the top selling spirits worldwide.  The drink is a simple mixture of  three ingredients: cachaca, lime, and sugar that somehow come together to create a flavor that is so irresistible that we suggest it might possibly be the reason the Girl from Ipanema kept walking.  What else beside a tasty cocktail enjoyed on the beach that could be more captivating than a handsome stranger with longing looks playing lonesome ballads on his guitar?  For Flighty its a no brainer, cocktails all the way and if there is a cute bartender well what else could you ever ask from life?

Astrud Gilberto, the face of Brazilian Jazz, 60s

The Girl from Ipanema–exotic, beautiful, mysterious, unattanamble–so suggest 60s Bosanova Jass Samba legend Antoio Carlos Jobim. The Brazilian spirit cachaca is the lifeblood of its people and  the Caipirinha is the drink that made it one of the top selling spirits worldwide.  The drink is a simple mixture of  three ingredients: cachaca, lime, and sugar that somehow come together to create a flavor that is so irresistible that we suggest it might possibly be the reason the Girl from Ipanema kept walking.  What else beside a tasty cocktail enjoyed on the beach that could be more captivating than a handsome stranger with longing looks playing lonesome ballads on his guitar?  For Flighty its a no-brainer, cocktails all the way and if there is a cute bartender well what else could you ever ask from life?

What is Cachaca?

Cachaca (pronounced kuh-sha-suh) is the native spirit of Brazil, and the Caipirinha its national drink, both of which have grown in popularity over the past several years to become one of the most frequently asked for drinks, when I’ve been behind the bar, next to the Mojito. The popularity of the Caipirinha and different parts of Europe have led to many versions, the Caipiroska (with vodka), or the Caipir-Italy, (made with Campari) but by far the best.  By U.S. Customs Law Cachaca is technically a brandy, but rather than molasses, and like  Rhum Agricole made in the French part of the West Indies, it is made from the first crush of

Slicing the Lime

sugarcane and is embodied with a crisp light effervescent flavor.  Cachaca is as varied in quality and flavor and method of distillation as tequila.  It  is available as a white, un-aged liquor crazy harsh almost like “white dog” or raw un-barreled  bourbon, or may sit in wooden barrels for anywhere from one to ten years. Aged cachaca has a smooth taste, and a yellowish or amber color, and its un-aged version can taste rough and harshly of alcohol.  Like Tequila there are also  many different styles and methods employed in the making of this spirit, some are made in pot stills, carefully, by a family that has been distilling it for generations, and others are mass produced and in Brazil, are even available in a aluminum can.

For most of the years I have been making this drink and even in 2007 when I filmed this show cachaca was not widely available and then only 2 brands of less than premium quality available.  Now there are many brands to choose from, ranging from premium made in a pot still Mãe de Ouro to rot gut Pitú, but there is a Brazilian saying that goes:  the poorer the cachaca the better the Caipirinha and the more I try the more I believe it to be true.

When I filmed this show I made the drink with raw sugar which I later found out to be the custom in Europe.  In Brazil, cheap cachaca and white fine grained cane sugar with thin skinned chunks fresh cut lime, with ice cubes not crushed ice, only lightly stirred not muddled, so it appears that my native mixology instructor has led me astray.  Now I stand behind the drink in this episode.  Miss Flighty does a lot of taste testing and this one made the cut, but for a more authentic Brazilian version, one that is simple and fast to make, check out “Cachaca Dave” Catana whip one of this babies up…perfect.  Cheers!!

Cachaca Dave makes the Perfect Caipirinha

Here are instructions in down loadable PDF:  How to Make the Perfect Caipirinha with Cachaca Dave and here he is on video:  How to make the Perfect Caipirinha.

 

 

 

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