Cachaça (pronounced kah shaw saw) 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 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, especially after the recent Olympic Games. That demand has been answered in many of the better cocktail lounges and bars throughout the U.S.
This is the basic recipe for the iconic, and easy to make, cocktail. You can always add your own touches with fruits, a drop of a liqueur, etc.
¼ 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.