Friday, December 4, 2015

41 Days of Drinks (day 14)

• This is the latest entry in a daily feature that will run through New Year's Eve. To provide it, I combed through all sorts of sources -- my own archives, bar books, distillers' ideas, etc. -- even press releases from breathless PR people seeking to get their clients' products mentioned.

Cachaça is a versatile spirit from Brazil that often is misidentified as rum. It actually is a distinctive spirit distilled from raw sugar cane juice, whereas rum is made from sugar cane byproducts, primarily molasses. Curiously under Brazil-U.S. trade agreement, it nevertheless is labeled "Brazilian rum."

Much of the familar "heat" rum supplies is not present in cachaça (pronounced kah shaw saw), which at least in the higher priced versions is very smooth, with a long finish, and stands up beautifully to all sorts of herbs and fruits in mixed cocktails.

Cachaça is the base for the Caipirinha cocktail that has so enamored tourists to South America in recent years that they demanded it when they returned home. That demand has been answered in many of the better cocktail lounges and bars throughout the U.S.

CAIPIRINHA

This is the basic recipe for the iconic, and easy to make, cocktail.

½ lime, quartered
1 teaspoon white sugar
2½ ounces cachaça
1 cup ice cubes

Squeeze, then drop two slivers of the lime in a large rocks glass. Add the sugar, crush the lime and sugar and mix with a spoon. Pour in the cachaça and plenty of ice. Stir well, serve with a lime garnish.

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