The Brazilians are really on to something and it isn’t just their tourism trade. It’s their distilled liquor, Cachaca. If there could possibly be a bridge liquor between rum and tequila, Cachaca must be it.
Cachaca (kuh-shah-suh) is only produced in Brazil and they only export 1% of it, mostly to Germany. This makes it slightly difficult to find in U.S. liquor stores, but hunting around for it will be well worth the trouble. The average Brazilian consumes three gallons of Cachaca yearly and for good reason; the unique taste. Unlike regular rum that is made from molasses, a by-product of sugarcane and aged in oak barrels, Cachaca is sugarcane juice that is distilled and fermented. This leaves a less sweet or dry tasting rum. What it also leaves is a slight twist on the rum flavor and aroma. It almost gives it that hint of crossover between rum and a light tequila flavor.
This is realized most with the Caipirinha (kay-peer-reen-ya), which also happens to be the national cocktail of Brazil. It takes three basic ingredients to put this drink together; Cachaca, lime, and bar syrup. They mirror ingredients and ratios in a simple margarita; Patron, lime and blue agave nectar. It also carries over to another drink with similar ingredients and ratios in the daiquiri with light rum, lime and bar syrup. Yet it is obvious the Caipirinha is neither a margarita nor a daiquiri. It is a cocktail that stands alone as it uses a distilled liquor that is like no other. It is no wonder the Cachaca so easily fills the space between rum and tequila with the Caipirinha. With the tart overtone of the lime combined with the unique flavor of this sugarcane distillate, this cocktail makes an excellent substitute for drinkers who steer clear of tequila, yet long for something other than mere rum.
2 oz Cachaca
1/2 Fresh Lime Cut Into Slices
1/4 oz Bar Syrup
1 Lime Wedge for Garnish
Muddle together fresh lime slices and bar syrup in shaker for approximately 10 – 15 seconds. Add Cachaca. Fill shaker 1/3 full with ice. Shake for 15 – 20 seconds until thoroughly combined. Strain into a rocks glass filled 2/3 full with ice. Add lime garnish.
Caipiroska – substitute vodka
Caipirissima – substitute rum
Sakerinha – substitute sake and tangerines instead of limes
Something else you might try is straining the above cocktail recipe into a Collins glass with 2/3 ice and topping off with diet or non-diet tonic water for a refreshing summer drink that will stretch a little longer.
FYI: The International Bartenders Association recognizes the Caipirinha as one of the 50 greatest drinks of all time. It really is that good. With it being as simple as it is to put together, it really should be on every person’s list of cocktails to remember.