The Intoxicologist

Monday, September 24, 2007

Brazil's Cachaca & the Caipirinha

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.

Traditional variations:

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.


Stepan W. Baghdassarian said...

Great Blog. Thank you.

We at Rio Joe’s Brands, Inc., are the importers and wholesaler of Brazilian wines and cachaças.

Our Rio Joe’s Silver Cachaça is a premium cachaça produced from the finest sugar canes in accordance with old-world craftsmanship and tradition. Our silver cachaça is double distilled from naturally fermented mash to reach its desired smoothness.

Rio Joe’s Silver Cachaça just won Silver Best in Class award at the International Wines and Spirits Competition in London.

Eric said...

How can I get my local liquor store to stock some of these types of liquors (like Cachaça)?

intoxicologist said...

Hi Eric. Thanks for stopping by. My site has moved to Take a look over there when you get a chance. All of the content from here is over there and much more.

As far as your question...just ask the liquor store manager. Most are more than willing to at least special order something for you from the warehouse if it is available. Sometimes they will begin to stock shelves with a product if it looks like something that will be profitable. Either way, asking is the best way to find out. My local liquor store is excellent about special ordering anything I ask for if the warehouse carries it. Nearly everything else can be found online.

Good luck!