When planning your Olympic Summer Games viewing party, look no further for your featured cocktail than Brazil’s national drink–the Caipirinha.
And you can’t make a delicious Caipirinha without cachaça, the national spirit of Brazil.
Cachaça is often miscategorized as a white rum. But unlike rum, which is most often made from molasses, the by-product of sugar refining, cachaça is fermented and distilled from sugar cane juice.
This creates a much more earthy quality to it. It retains the rustic terroir of the sugar cane’s birth, but with less of a grassy element than a rhum agricole.
“There’s this perception that cachaça is like rocket fuel,” said Steve Luttmann, founder of the Leblon brand. “It’s somewhat deserved, because the ones we were seeing at first were more industrial. The fine cachaças now available on the market are reminiscent of a rhum agricole but they’re cleaner tasting.”
Despite a steady climb in sales over the last five years and an expanding number of available brands, cachaça still has a narrow user profile. Few liquors are so tied in consumers’ mind to a single cocktail, yet cachaça has the mixing versatility of rum and can be substituted into practically any rum recipe.
The Caipirinha (which translates as “little country girl”) cocktail is essentially a variation on the original daiquiri, except that it swaps cachaça for rum. Cut a lime into eight wedges and muddle it with two tablespoons of sugar (about one sugar packet). Add ice and pour in two ounces of cachaça. Give it a quick shake to help mix the lime juice and dissolve the sugar. Pour everything into a glass and enjoy.
The caipirinha is a strong drink that goes down easy. The volume of the drink is small, and it is meant to be sipped.
The best known brand in the U.S. and Europe is Leblon. In 2012, the Diageo adult beverage conglomerate paid $453 million to acquire Ypióca, which is regarded as the leading premium brand in Brazil.
Whichever brand you choose, have fun experimenting with one of the prize spirits of the summer season.
Cachaça can be found on the top right of the rum section at Wyatt’s.