Drink of the Month -JUNE 2012- Cachaca

Discussion in 'The Speakeasy' started by Walter Sobchak, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Welcome to The B&B Speakeasy Drink of the Month for June 2012!


    Thanks to your votes in the DOTM suggestion thread, Cachaca has been nominated as the DOTM for June.

    As summer approaches and the warm weather makes its way to most of our backyards this spirit feels like a perfect fit. Made from fermented and distilled cane juice, Cachaca (ka-SHAH-sa), sometimes called Cane Rum or Brazilian Rum, is Brazil's most popular spirit. Cachaca has been around since the 1800s in Brazil, but it has become quite popular around the globe in recent years. It's most often enjoyed as the featured spirit in Brazil's national cocktail, the Caipirinha, however there are a number of exotic cocktails that feature Cachaca.

    There are a handful of well known and widely distributed brands that should be available in the $20-$30 range somewhere nearby. You may find both white and gold varieties are available at your local spirit house. Gold Cachacas are typically aged in wooden casks and lend themselves very nicely to sipping.

    I'm hoping you'll grab whatever bottle of Cachaca strikes your fancy and report back to this thread with your initial impressions, tasting notes, and pics!

    Before you go running out to pick up a bottle, you'll need a shopping list so you can mix a tasty and refreshing Caipirinha when you get back.

    There are differing opinions on the "perfect" Caipirinha, but this easy recipe will get you started:

    Cut half a lime into slices or chunks. Throw them in a rocks glass.
    Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of granulated white sugar over the lime chunks.
    Muddle the lime and sugar.
    Add a heavy 2 oz pour of Cachaca, a heaping dose of ice, and stir.
    Garnish with a wedge or slice of lime if you choose.
    Adjust ratios to your unique tastes.

    There you have it.

    Simple. Different. Refreshing.

    Hope you enjoy.
  2. Thanks Jonathan. Couple of questions before I hit the liquor store:

    1. You mention there are a couple of good brands in the $20-$30 range. Could you list them so I know what to look for? Or should we just look for anything in that price range?

    2. How different is the flavor profile from rum? Obviously I'll be trying the Caipirinha, but does it substitute well for white rum in other cocktails? Or is it a different beast entirely?
  3. Caipirinha
    (Pronounced 'KIE-PUR-REEN-YAH')
    - 2 oz cachaça (I used Ypioca Cachaca)
    - 2 tsp sugar (I used superfine)
    - 1 lime (cut into chunks)
    - ice cubes
    Garnish: lime wedge or wheel (optional)
    Muddle lime with sugar in a rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice. Pour cachaça and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.

    I found a "how to make" vid I can no longer locate so...

    I cut the lime in half lengthwise then cut off the ends and cut a "V" out of the center to remove most of the white pith. Cut the halves into quarters then the quarters in half so you wind up with eight chunks. Dump those in a mixing glass and add the sugar. Muddle. Muddle some more. ;) Add the cachaca and crushed ice. Shake until your hand freezes. Pour the whole mess into a rocks glass and enjoy.
    I modified the directions a bit as a stir didn't get it cold enough or mixed enough to suit me and I wanted the ice to melt a bit in the shaker.

    Cachaca (at least the clear) is a bit raw and reminds me more of blanco tequila than rum. I read somewhere in my searches that there is a saying in Brazil that goes something like "The worse the Cachaca the better the Caipirinha". I take that to mean a more raw spirit is not as easily overpowered by the lime and sugar.

    I thought it was quite tasty and for once the local stores are cooperating and have a sale on limes, 7 for $1. Not too shabby.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  4. Luke,
    Thanks for taking an interest!

    There isn't a wide variety of Cachaca to be found in most domestic liquor stores. In Brazil there are lots of offerings, but for us I think the two most widely distributed are probably Leblon and Ypioca. Both seem to be a reasonable price ($20-ish) and decent product.

    There are other Cachaca cocktails out there, but they're mostly a little more exotic and fruity than I would go for; things that might be served at resorts in Rio (like Cachaca + champagne + passion fruit + OJ + mango...I made that one up, but you get where I'm coming from). I have not seen instances where it's been mentioned as a good substitute for Caribbean rum. The extra refining of the molasses in Carib-Rum makes it an entirely different beast. The raw fermented cane juice used in Cachaca definitely gives this drink more of a mezcal/tequila tinge.

    I plan to post a series of pics leading up to a finished product when I get a chance. I'm thinking about rimming the rocks glass with lime juice and sugar just for fun. I've recently taken a new job so I haven't had the flexibility to do these things the way I'm used to. I'm hoping my sweetie will enjoy the Caipirinha, too, and we'll be able to keep a bottle of Cachaca around for a nice change of pace summer drink while we watch the munchkins splash around outside.

    Thanks for posting this. Excellent details. Superfine sugar would definitely be the way to go if you have it.
  5. 1. Leblon is likely to be your easy to acquire good quality. There's a brand called Novo Fogo that has limited distribution as well.

    2. I find it harsher. It's similar to rum, but not the same. It's made from sugarcane instead of molasses. I was looking for other cocktails to make with it besides a Caipirinha, but everything I find just seems to be a variation on a Caipirinha. Not a big rum drinker so I haven't tried substituting it.

    Here's a good blog posting on cachaca and the caipirinha:
  6. Good call, caipirinhas are great for a hot summer evening. I hear tell that they use a special oversized muddler in Brazil for these drinks, though my battered classic wood muddler works just fine. I can see where it might be a benefit to have extra leverage when mashing up half a lime, but I'd be concerned for the glassware.

    Yprioca is fine, and I've used Pirassununga cachaca 51 with excellent results as well. The stuff has a good burn to it.

  7. Going to try to mix some up tonight or tomorrow...

  8. I might also add that Cachaca is pronounced Ca-SHAH-sa. I was saying it all wrong for a long time. Love a great Caipirinha in the summer but usually settle with a Moscow Mule. (Vodka, Ginger-beer and lime).
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  9. Discovered Cachaca and Caiprinhas on a trip to Brazil (Rio + Bahia) a few years back.
    Loved it!
    A little side note about it - The scent on your person is going to be pretty strong when consuming Cachaca. It seems to linger around a bit more than other spirits.

  10. Today I had the opportunity to run into a large liquor store just outside of Hartford, CT. They had SIX varieties of Cachaca on the shelf. That's four more than any other liquor store I've looked in.

    Left to right: Pirapora: Widely regarded as a solid choice. A very popular brand. It's 3yr barrel aged, very smooth and clean. Each bottle has a batch ID stamp (AMPAQ) on the neck (shown in pic), and has a hand-written batch# and bottling date on the back label. Leblon: ultra premium and more expensive than I was expecting here. The average price according to wine-searcher is $28 nationwide. Next is Pitu, another widely available commercial brand. Cachaca 51 is said to be the #1 seller in Brazil. It's a clean and smooth drinker according to the majority of reviews I've read. Its name comes from the year it was founded. Cachaca 61 (founded in '61) is yet another commercial silver offering, not overly raved about on the Web. Velho Barreiro- I couldn't tell if it's gold or silver due to the brown bottle. I've seen it described as both gold and silver on websites, so I can't say for sure. Lastly, Agua Luca, another premium pour said to be pure and smooth. Somewhat surprising was that they didn't carry Ypioca.

    I went with Pirapora due to the fact that I had remembered the reviews and was surprised to see it here. I had intended on buying Leblon, but since it was nearly twice as much as the Pirapora the decision was an easy one. The reviews are right. Pirapora is smooth and clean. It's 84 proof without any hint of burn.
  11. $2012-06-05_22-57-24_864.jpg $2012-06-05_21-39-02_313.jpg

    A quick shot of the back label...hmm, bottled 04/08...that's before I had gray hair. The setup: My muddler has been long lost. I think it got packed away with the other barware when we were making room for the baby bottles and sippy cups. Anyway, I use a big, brute of a wooden spoon when I need to muddle. There's a medium lime, a bowl of half-crushed ice, a rocks glass, a small measuring cup, and a very heaping tsp of sugar.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  12. $2012-06-05_21-56-26_334.jpg

    Because the Cachaca does remind me a bit of tequila, and the Caipirinha feels like a distant cousin to the margarita, I thought it would be fun to rim the glass with lime juice and sugar. You see the muddled limes and 1-2 tsp of sugar in the bottom of the glass. Be sure not to smash the limes to smithereens when you're muddling, you just want get the juice out and mixed with the sugar. If you smash them too much they could get a little bitter. In case you're wondering, it's a little more than half the lime cut up in there. Some quarter slices and some quarter chunks just to mix up the look.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  13. $2012-06-05_22-02-08_558.jpg

    The finished product.

    Very tasty indeed. I think you'll agree when you taste yours that there's a strand or two of margarita DNA in there, but not too much. I much prefer a Caipirinha to a Margarita. I think (hope) my wife, who's a margarita fan, will enjoy it when I mix them up on the next hot and muggy day.

    A couple of notes: I didn't crush up enough ice for this pic, but I added a couple of cubes after the photo. I like the "water line" a little higher than this. Also, I used regular granulated sugar here. It dissolved perfectly well when muddling and added an interesting texture to the rim.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  14. Another benefit to using regular granulated sugar is that you are providing a nice macerating compound to really help grind out the essence of limes. Good call on not overdoing the muddling though: nobody wants a bitter beverage (unless they are a campari fan).

    I guess my Pirassununga cachaca 51 is the not for export version of your "Cachaca 51", since it was brought to me from Brazil and the labels are very similar. It's good stuff, I recommend it for your next excursion.
  15. What are you guys' thoughts on using simple syrup in place of sugar (keep the muddling and reduce the risk of 'anything worth doing is worth overdoing' the drink)? Is the texture of the sugar important to the muddling or the taste/mouth feel of the drink? I'm a whiskey neat guy, but SWMBO would love this drink, I think.
  16. I doubt it would impact the taste at all. In fact, you could just juice the lime and make a daiquiri-like caipirinha served in a cocktail glass. However, I think this would miss the point (and the fun). This is supposed to be a simple rustic drink for rustic country people. When was the last time you had a drink with a whole lime chopped up in it? I never have... but I like it.
  17. Sounds interesting, I'll look for it next time I'm at the NH liquor store.
  18. Simple syrup would be fine. In fact, some recipes call for simple syrup.

    I'm usually a whiskey neat guy, too. But I can see drinking this in place of a Tom Collins on an oppressively hot day. All that ice and lime make it a very refreshing cocktail, but the two ounces of Cachaca goes down quick and easy, so a little caution is in order.


    I love the NH state liquor stores. I usually buy one of those huge 1.75L of Knob Creek and a bottle of Highland Park when I'm up there. I wonder if they have 1.75L of Woodford Reserve...that would surely be my next purchase when I drive through.
  19. In the link I posted one of the preparation variation from the traditional way uses a little sugar for muddling, to tear the skin, and the rest simple syrup. I do it that way, think it's fine. Although I don't have an authentic caipirinhia experience to compare it to.

    I don't see how it could be worse than the standard method.
  20. Mixed some up last night - Pretty tasty, but I think I need to adjust my method of attack slightly. I was using an actual (granite) mortar & pestle to crush the ice and the limes, and I suspect I was overdoing it on the limes. I found I had to add around 2 heaping teaspoons of icing sugar to get the flavour where I wanted it. Possibly the limes are to blame as well - they weren't super-ripe.

    I'll probably try again tonight.

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