There cachaça it is the Brazilian national distillate and is the fundamental ingredient of one of the most requested cocktails in clubs all over the world: caipirina.
It has a great history and great value: here is a recipe for traveling from home too!
The cachaça, also called aguardente, pinga, caninha, comes from the famous aguardiente de cana of Madeira, the Portuguese Atlantic island that supplied all of Europe in 1500.
The name cachaca derives from the Portuguese name “cagaca”, which is the foam that forms on the surface of the fermenting sugar cane juice.
It is a distillate that manages to offer a range of unique aromas and flavors, a true alchemical synthesis of sugar cane juice. The aromas are very fruity, sweet, enveloping, full of honey, with that fruit imbued with pungent and ethereal references. On the palate the cachaça is alcoholic, but velvety, driven by a warm and caressing fruit. It has rhythm, it hits you with an incredible burst of tropical scents and flavors and an incredible grace.
The difference with rum is obvious: industrial rum comes from a waste product such as molasses, while cachaca comes from a wort of fermented juice from which the best part has not been subtracted. This makes cachaca much more like agricultural rum.
The large production of cachaça or aguardiente de cana from Brazil makes this distillate the third most drunk in the world, starting from internal consumption: the annual production exceeds one billion liters, consumed practically only by the internal market.
Basically, Brazilian consumption amounts to more than eight liters per person, a real record in the field of spirits.
A small percentage leaves the Brazilian borders exported in small numbers all over the world, Germany is a case in itself in this with a fair number of hectoliters sold, perhaps for historical reasons linked to the strong presence of German emigrants in the South American country.
Unfortunately in Italy cachaça is considered a poor quality distillate, useful at most precisely for making the classic caipirinha.
In reality there are more than 40,000 cachaçe in Brazil, some of which, after aging in cask for up to 17 years, become real nectars able to easily compete with the most refined agricultural rums.
Unfortunately, imports into Italy are scarce, the most commercial products arrive here and the public has never had the opportunity to taste the finest spirits, the aged ones or the cachaça produced by more artisanal distilleries.
The distillate is produced with sugar cane of which Brazil is the first world producer.
It comes from cane juice, but from all the juice, not from molasses after it has been deprived of sugar crystals and therefore it is a full, aromatic, tasty, but also very pyrotechnic product.
The sugar cane is cut and collected, then crushed with stone or hydraulic presses and the juice is collected in tubs. The juice is cooked and then fermented by adding yeasts that trigger the fermentation, until a must with a low alcohol content is obtained, in practice it is a wort like that of whiskey, only that it comes from cane juice.
The qualitative variable is linked to the use of molasses or virgin cane juice, of distillation in discontinuous stills, unable to reach high gradations out of the swan neck, or of the columns.
Although it is technically a rum, cachaca cannot be assimilated to this category due to a substantial organoleptic difference, very evident on the nose.
The sweet note of sugar cane can be sensed, but it does not have the elegance of rum, which is also fuller and more structured.
The distillate is normally rough, with a strong ethereal note, very difficult to drink neat and finds admirers only when it is in cocktails such as caipirinha or in the famous batidas, refreshing alcoholic smoothies with mango, coconut, papaya and other exotic delicacies.
Just like rum, cachaca is great when mixed with fresh, sweet, pulpy fruit such as strawberries, cherries and passion fruit. It is not very flexible, but for making easy and immediate cocktails, all fruit is perfect.
This is why we wanted to insert here the Garota de Ipanema, a drink from bartender Sabina Yausheva which is inspired by the famous song by Antonio Carlos ‘Tom’ Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes and his poetic lyrics ‘Look how much beauty, full of grace: it is the girl who passes gently swaying towards the sea ‘.
Notes and words that catapult those who drink this drink into the seductive land full of life that is Brazil.
All based on cachaça and Pure Tonic Cortese, produced in Italy by Bevande Futuriste, a natural tonic that contains only water, mineral salts, sugar and authentic natural quinine.
Imagining your feet in the sand, lying in the shade of a palm tree, overwhelmed and seduced by the musicality of the Portuguese, your skin warmed by the sun, the drink in your hand and, in front of you, the splendid panorama that only Rio de Janeiro can offer.
A hymn to travel, for a drink, ‘Garota de Ipanema‘who wants, in the intentions of the bartender, to escape from reality even for a few minutes and dream of being elsewhere. Without red areas, yellow areas, but only warm and sandy areas.
Here is the recipe, to be able to travel from the kitchen, indeed from the counter of our home.
Garota de Ipanema by Sabina Yausheva
- 4.5 cl cachaça
- 3 cl lemon
- 2.5 cl pineapple syrup
- 1,5 cl blue curaçao
- 1 cl egg white
- top Pure Tonic Cortese
- Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice, excluding the Cortese Pure Tonic.
- Shake well to allow the egg white to whip
- pour, filtering everything, into a Collins glass filled with ice.
- Finally, gently pour in the Cortese tonic and mix gently with a bar spoon.
Aged spirits are also available on the market which are less strong and more pleasant to the palate, even if their use as meditation products is always difficult.
For about ten years now, a series of launches of discontinuous distilled products that use cane juice have begun, which have raised the qualitative perception of cachaca, however somewhat distorting its organoleptic profile which has become very similar to that of agricultural rums. French.
The sugar cane production techniques involve harvesting twice a year, depending on the seasonal trend.
To avoid too earthy aftertaste, the lower part that is more in contact with the ground is eliminated and the upper part, less rich in sugar, is topped.
Harvesting by hand, which is less stressful for the plant and which best preserves the organoleptic quality of the sugar cane, has now almost completely disappeared, despite the fact that the cost of labor in Brazil is not high.
In fact, this operation remains the prerogative of small distilleries and producers of organic cachaca only.
Another fundamental element for the quality of the distillate of these small companies is the proximity of the plantation to the distillery, to bring the fresh raw material to the presses to obtain the juice.
The machines now operate almost all of the collection, leaving only the inaccessible and steeply sloping areas to men.
A technique to quickly defoliate the sugar cane is to cause a controlled fire inside the plantation, a procedure that also removes poisonous snakes and spiders potentially dangerous for the harvesters, giving the juice interesting organoleptic characteristics, causing a sort of ” caramelization “of the sugar.
However, this technique is opposed and opposed by many producers, especially organic ones, as it is believed that these fires modify the delicate ecosystem present in the countryside surrounding the plantation.
At this point we move on to distillation and here the vast world of cachaça producers opens up: there are those who make a slow distillation with a copper still, those who do a double distillation in the column and those who simply distil as much raw material as possible to make great quantity of industrial product.
As with all spirits, the flavor, finesse and elegance of the final product aromas comes from the sensitivity of the master distiller who eliminates heads and things, from the alembic, from how slow and careful the distillation is and how delicate the ” cooking ”of the cane juice wort.
The slower and more gradual it is, the greater the nuances, but also the selection of the heart of the distillate.
Traditionally the juice is fermented in “tachos”, the containers previously used for the production of sugar, with yeasts, which can be indigenous or selected. The fermentation period varies from 36 to 72 hours, at controlled temperatures ranging from 28 to 32 degrees, to avoid burning the delicate aromas with tumultuous processes.
In any case, once the double distillation is over, the cachaça undergoes the first real great classification: it can be immediately bottled and is considered a cachaça branca or prata, i.e. white, or it will become a cachaça amarela or ouro, i.e. golden.
The refinement of the most ambitious spirits takes place in large wooden barrels, similar to the pipones also used to age tequila and can usually last from a minimum of 12 months up to 15 and more years.
For what concerns food pairings, the only one that seems interesting for lovers of strong sensations is the preparation of a fresh caipirina with brown sugar, lots of lime and ice and use it, like an excellent red wine, to be sipped with a abundant grilled mixed meat.
The alcoholic strength of the distillate and the acidity of the lemon will serve as a degreaser of the mouth and will make the subsequent cut of meat pleasant, paying attention to the quantities given the alcohol content not really similar to wine!