Cachaša is a distilled spirit unique to Brazil that is made from fresh pressed sugarcane. Originally thought to be invented in the 1600's by Brazilian slaves, cachaša was believed to relieve weariness and to increase vigor. Indeed, the caiprinha and other cachaša based drinks fuel nightclubs from Rio to Ibiza all night long. The passion and sensual allure of Brazilian cachaša is undeniable.
Much like wine, the flavor of cachaša is determined by the Brazilian climate, the soil and the aging process. Different regions of Brazil will produce cachašas of completely different tastes. At present it is estimated that Brazil has well over 4,000 cachaša distilleries and produces 1.2 billion liters per year.
While many Latin American countries also produce a distilled spirit from fresh sugar cane called "Aguardente", this is where the similarity with cachaša ends. "Aguardente", which means "burning water", is known (and justly named) because of the sharp sting on the tongue and the fiery hangovers from this rough spirit. Not so with cachaša, which smooth, mellow in flavor and possessing a wonderful aroma of freshly cut sugar cane.
Of course the quality of cachaša will depend on the brand. To judge the quality of your favorite cachaša use the following tests, just as a Brazilian cachaša connoisseur would:
- Hold the bottle up to the light. Quality cachaša is clear and without impurities.
- Shake the bottle. The froth and bubbles should disappear in less than 30 seconds.
- (This one is tricky unless you can try it before you buy) When poured slowly down the sides of a glass, it should appear like fine oil.
- Check the aroma of the cachaša in a glass or on the palm of your hand. If it does not smell like sugar cane, it probably is not a good cachaša.
- Request to taste the cachaša before you buy it. If you sense a burning sensation in your mouth or on the back of your throat, it is of poor quality.
Once you have found a good cachaša, experiment with it! Highly mixable, it is delicious with fresh fruit juices and perfect for creating tropical frozen drinks. Appealing.
Thanks to Dave at www.caipirinha.us/ for this definition and tips.
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