Pronounced kah-SHA-sah, this charming sugarcane distillate is the true spirit of Brazil and its national cocktail, the “Caipirinha” – a mixture of cachaça, sugar and lime.
Made from 100% cane juice that is sourced from various regions throughout the country, cachaça is highly consumed in Brazil and is actually the second largest spirit production in the world just after Soju. Sugarcane spirit, that’s rum right? The answer here is no. Cachaça is a unique spirit that is expressive of its local sugarcane and production methods. In efforts to separate it from the general rum category, this spirit is defined as “Aguardente de Cana”, meaning cane brandy. Continuing to help define cachaça as a distinct spirit, Brazil currently has an agreement with the US market where we recognize cachaça as a particular type of rum and in return Brazil recognizes Bourbon whiskey and Tennessee whiskey as their own subcategories.
Probably the most significant difference between cachaça and rum is the base material. The vast majority of rums on the market are distilled from molasses, a by-product of boiled cane juice. Cachaça, like rhum agricole, is produced from fresh sugarcane juice. The finished product is a clear spirit that is legally required to be between 38-48% abv. While most cachaça is bottled unaged, there are also aged cachaças that spend a minimum of one year in wood. Some producers use the indigenous Amburana wood that imparts a gold color and hints of honey and coconut. Lastly, there is also a category labeled as “Sweetened Cachaça” that has anywhere between 6 – 30 grams of sugar added it.
But let’s be honest, it is no secret that cachaça has carried a rather bad reputation for its vast production of low quality bulk spirit. These industrial distilleries typical use large continuous stills to produce high-strength spirits that are then diluted to resemble light rum. And for any of us who have tasted industrially produced cachaça, we have felt the harsh bite.
But luckily for us, the cachaça industry is currently experiencing a renaissance of artisan producers making small production handcrafted spirits with incredible aromatics, finesse and complexity. These artisan producers use small batch distillation in copper pot stills that produce at a lower strength in order to allow the vegetal aromatics of the cane to shine through. Clean and full of character, the finished spirit is a bartender’s dream as more cachaça based cocktails continue to pop up in the bar scene.
So as the spring season continues to bring us lots of sunshine, warm weather and colorful blossoms, it is the perfect time to enjoy cocktails outside under the blue sky. And while most people might think of this as a tropical summer cocktail spirit, who says we have to wait until summer to start enjoying the delicious splendors cachaça?
Proving that cachaça can be the base spirit to some very eclectic cocktails, here are some recipes from these topnotch craft producers.
“Summer Hunter Cocktail”
- 2oz. Avuá Cachaça Prata
- 3 lime wedges
- .25oz. pomegranate grenadine
- Garnish with pom seeds and mint
- 50 ml of Cachaça Yaguara
- 150 ml of tonic water
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 1 bag of chamomile tea
- 1 dash of orange bitter
- 1 lemon wedge
- In large wine glass add Cachaça Yaguara, the orange bitter and the bag of chamomile tea. Let this infuse for 3 minutes.
- Break the lemongrass stalk and add it to the glass
- Fill with ice cubes and tonic water
- Garnish with lemon wedge
Cachaça DA MATA
- 1 Kiwi
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 4 cubes of crushed ice
- 50 ml of Cachaça DA MATA
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