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August 20, 2009

Ever heard of cachaca?

cachacaI must admit -- until recently, I knew nothing about cachaca.

This little blue bottle of the Brazilian sugar cane liquor (pictured) was a wedding favor from one of my friends. It came with a recipe to make a caipirinha, a popular mixed drink made with cachaca.

To make a caipirinha, I'm supposed to muddle half a lime (!) with two teaspoons of sugar or simple syrup, add ice, dump in the cachaca and mix it all together. I like that there's no mint or other such mumbo jumbo -- just lime, sugar and liquor.

Apparently, they drink a ton of cachaca in Brazil -- something like 1.5 billion liters a year, according to Wikipedia. Geez.

Last night, I decided to sneak a sip of the stuff -- just a taste, to see what raw cachaca was all about. Bad decision ...

Remember those cartoons where they drank something and coughed fire? Yeah, it was kinda like that. My eyes popped outta my head, too. This little bottle of cachaca packs a big whallop. I'm sure the alcohol content varies from distiller to distiller. I'd put this particular batch at 70 or 80 proof, easily.

jmgiordano and I are going to be tasting some scotches tonight. Maybe I'll make him try a sip of this caipirinha too. 

I'll keep you posted.

(Photo by me)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:20 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Sam ... Cachaca by itself is definitely not something to taste but Caipirinhas are delicious and a great summer cocktail.

My friend's father brought back cachaça and a caipirinha recipe from a Brazilian business trip several years ago... delicious!

I had a Caipirinha at a Brazilian steak house in Tyson's corner last week. My buddy has been raving about them since he got back from Rio. Very similar to a mojito, but without the club soda filler.

Sturmy, you know, I've been drinking gin and tonics lately, and i really enjoy putting extra lime in them. The lime takes the edge off the gin. I wonder if it will do the same with the cachaca?

Cachaca 51. I bought it about a year ago to fill out some extra space in my basement bar.

Drank one shot. My reaction much like Sam's. In fact, I'm fairly sure I did breathe fire.

It made my bottle of grappa jealous.

Sam, I usually do the double lime in my G&T's too. Lately though I've cut the tonic out completely and starting drinking bombay on the rocks with onions. But honestly I haven't been drinking much this Summer. Too much work, not enough play!

I can't believe you don't watch "Three Sheets." You have a great job - but this guy has the best job ever.

In one episode he sat at a table with 2 old men in South America and drank the stuff. He got hammered.

AC-M, wow, I've never seen that before. I'll have to check it out.

Sturmy, gin and onions? What?

Strait cachaca can be very good if you get the barrel aged kind. Unfortunately I can't find any around here because of the terrible import laws in this state.

and no, I didn't just respond to this post because you said bad decision....

Three Sheets is a great show. It was recently picked up by Fine Living Network and runs weekdays from 10-11 p.m. FLN is channel 232 on DirecTV, I'm guessing it is on Comcast Digital as well.

Yeah Sam. Not a big fan of olives in my gin, so I started with the onions awhile back. Works very well!
I've watched the episode of Three Sheets when he sits with the two old men. Also saw the one where he drinks Sambuca with two guys and they compare the quality of the liquor. Interesting show.

I tried it in Rio several years ago for the first time. By itself it wasn't drinkable, but when mixed properly it goes down way too easily. I ran up a huge bill at the pool bar and an even bigger headache the next day. Enjoy and beware.

Need Smooth! Guapiara Cachaca is smooth. So smooth you can actually drink it straight, without the burn, and the stuff is 80 proof! Now thats what you call quality.

I´m from Brasil and I will try to explain what happens when you dink a poor and
cheap distilled like ....51 or Ypióca .
Those are industrial made. The good cachaças are hand made (artesanal) and they
are aged up to six years in many types of woods.

The making process is completelly different.

In the hand made process
the sugar cane is manually cutted and the fermentation is natural and
has no quimicals.
During the destilation the "head"(the beggining of the destilation process) and the
"tail"(the end of the destilation
process) are takened off, keeping only the "heart", this is what makes
it taste so good and does not give "headaches".

Very Good for the day after. No hangover.
Much better than Tequila ou Whisky !

The industrial process don't throw nothing so..... bleargh!!!


Thanks for the comment. What are the names of some good cachaca brands?

The names are one thing question, but a better one would be where in this town could we even find a place that stocks 'em?

We have 4000 brands in Brasil. Its difficult to know how is industrial or artesanal made.
Those are my favorites.

Weber Haus
Cachaça do Rei
Anízio Santiago (the best of brasil U$ 150 a bottle)
Velha Januária
Vale Verde

I think that will be very difficult to find this brands in the US.

Dear Sam,
If you want i could try to send you some bottles by mail.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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