10 Facts About Cachaça

Image credit: 
Cary Norton

Move over rum! Brazil’s favorite spirit is coming to town.

History

1. In the mid–16th century, Portuguese colonists introduced a South Asian crop to Brazil: sugarcane.

2. Farmers quickly learned that if they fermented the sugarcane juice in barrels, they’d get a sweet distilled spirit.

3. More than two dozen types of Brazilian wood are used to age barrels—each imparts a slightly different quality to the liquor.

Economics

4. Until recently, Brazil refused to accept that bourbon was distinctly American. As payback, the U.S. wouldn't acknowledge cachaça as unique to Brazil.

5. As a result, any imported cachaça was labeled “Brazilian rum”—a misnomer, since rums are usually made with molasses.

6. All was eventually forgiven, and the spirit was able to use the official "cachaça" name in America starting April 2013.

Sociology

7. Although numerous high-end batches are produced today, cachaça is still considered a working man’s drink in Brazil.

8. Cachaçeira in Portuguese translates to “drunkard,” and caipirihna comes from the Portuguese word caipira, which means “backwoodsman.”

Linguistics

9. When the Portuguese, eager to sell their own distilled spirit, tried to suppress the cachaça market, Brazilians responded by renaming it to dupe authorities.

10. Brazilians have more than 2,000 nicknames for cachaça. “White coffee, “water that birds won’t drink,” “eyewash,” and “giver of laugh” are just a few.

Try This

AVUÁ AMBURANA: Like bananas Foster in a bottle. Cinnamon- caramel aromas give way to smoky notes of toasted black pepper.

IF YOU LIKE MOJITOS ... TRY THE CAIPIRINHA

Brazil’s national cocktail is cachaça's natural habitat!

1 lime cut into wedges
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1⁄2 ounces silver cachaça
1 cup ice cubes

DIRECTIONS

In a large glass squeeze and muddle lime wedges. Add sugar, and mix with a spoon. Pour in the cachaça and plenty of ice. Stir well.

Eric Bennett of Carrigan’s Public House in Birmingham, Alabama, made our caipirinha.

This story originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. Subscribe to our print edition here, and our iPad edition here.

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June 28, 2014 - 1:00pm
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