Are you by any chance a fan of that trendy Brazilian cocktail known as the caipirinha? If not, you’ve probably at least heard of cachaça; along with the mojito out of Cuba, this has become one of the hot tipples of the early 21st century. But unlike the mojito, this particular tipple depends on a particular kind of booze, one hailing only from Brazil.
Like rum, cachaça is made from sugarcane – but unlike most rums, not its by-product molasses but from fresh cane juice, and there are a whopping 40,000 producers in Brazil (most of them small mom-and-pops in places like Minas Gerais, Paraty, and Belo Horizonte). Also known as aguardente, pinga (which funnily enough also happens to be the most popular Cuban slang for the male member), and caninha, it comes in two varieties: white (unaged) and gold/amber (aged in wood from two to 16 years and which can go for hundreds of dollars a bottle). It generally has 38% to 48% alcohol, and some of the more popular brands include Pitú, Leblon (this is one that’s gotten a lot of promotion in North America), Cabana, and Beleza Pura.
The cachaças I’ve tried come across a little grassy for my own taste, but I admit I haven’t gotten to sample the many artesenal and aged versions sloshing around out there. And in any case, when mixed in a caipirinha (with sugar and lime) or other cocktail, it does add an exotically refreshing note.
If you’re interested, and planning to vacation at one Iberostar’s pair of Brazil resorts or cruise on its Grand Amazon, why not tack on a hop to one of the above mentioned regions that are home to distilleries that welcome visitors. If that’s not in the cards, at least check out a cachaçaria (watering hole specializing in cachaças) near you, such as Água Doce (“Sweet Water,” another nickname for the booze) in Salvador or Cachaçaria do Dedé in Manaus.
Or even easier – just belly up to the Iberostar bar…
Photo | rmx