The world owes a lot to the reedy, sub-tropical sugar cane plant: hyperactive children, a long history of imperialist plantations, bizarre federal price-fixing laws...a sticky history indeed. But few by-products of this cousin of the lowly lawn grass plant, which by the way can grow as high as 12 feet, are as truly rewarding as their distilled ones: cachaca and rum.
While both liquors come from sugar cane, cachaca is made from fermented and distilled sugar cane juice. Rum, at least ideally, is made from fermented and distilled molasses. Molasses is a by-product of sugar manufacturing that results from cycles of boiling and purifying raw cane juice until it's fit for the queen's 4 o'clock tea service.
Like some high quality wines, high quality, small-batch cachacas and rums are aged in wood barrels. And also like wine, there are industrial, high-volume cachacas and rums that make up in availability and affordability what they lack in depth. Cachaca is one of top four produced liquors of the world after the likes of vodka, rum, and soju.
Now that you've got your muddling game on (see previous posting on muddling), you're all set to make on the best, most classic cachaca cocktail known to man, the Brazilian staple, the caipirinha (pronounced ki-per-een-ya).
Best Caipirinha Recipe
For this recipe, you'll need a serving tumbler, a stainless bar shaker, and a muddler.
1.5-2 ounces cachaca
1 large juicy lime (1.5 small ones)
1 tbs white or demerara sugar
Halve the lime. Slice each half into quarters and place them in a tumbler along with the sugar. Muddle! This will require some solid muddling skills, as you're also juicing the lime along with releasing essential oils from the peel. If you want to do it another way (more like the mojito way) you can juice each half of the lime first into the tumbler, then slice up the rinds and throw them in and muddle with the sugar. Next add ice to the top of the tumbler, cachaca, and shake in the stainless cup. Serve it forth!