Brazil's national spirit, Cachaca is made from the sugar-cane plant, like rum. The major difference is rum is usually made from molasses, a by-product from refineries that boil the cane juice to extract as much sugar crystals as possible, whereas Cachaca is made from fresh sugar cane juice that's then fermented and distilled.
The history of Cachaca goes back to 400 years ago when plantation owners began serving the liquid to their slaves after noticing that the drive would increase vigour. Over the years, better distilled Cachaa as were developed, and soon people started to drink it on dinner tables in colonial Brazil. Shortly after slavery was banned in 1888, the monarchy was ousted and progressive leaders declared Brazil a modern Republic, a national pride began for sugar throughout the country.
By the 1920s, Cachaca had become a symbol of Brazilian identity, produced and consumed throughout the nation by diverse, ethnic and social groups.
Cachaca is the key ingredient in the Caipirinha, a traditional cocktail, with added sugar and muddled limes. Caipirinhas and other tropical cocktails are usually made with un-aged Cachaca. Until now, the only Cachaca available in the US were some of Brazil's most ordinary, which sell for $1-$3 US in Brazil.
Aged cachacas come in shades ranging from gold to amber and deserve to be sipped, like a fine tequila or single malt Scotch. In Brazil, artesian Cachaca sell anywhere between $15 to $400 per bottle. Aged cachaca as are wood-aged for 2-16 years, with earthy flavours similar to tequila and aromas of balsam, cinnamon and oak.
Caipirinha, the cocktail, (pictured right), pronounced 'kei-pur-reen-yah'.
This fresh, exotic cocktail is becoming as hot among international crowds as it is on Copacabana Beach. The traditional Caipirinha is a Brazilian cocktail made with Cachaca, sugar, and crushed limes, served over ice. It is always muddled (crushed with a masher or the blunt end of a wooden spoon). Make sure to muddle in a shaker or a sturdy, non-breakable glass.
You can also try replacing lime with about 1/2 cup of fresh tangerine, star fruit, passion fruit, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, orange, mango, grape, guava, figs, etc.