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Brazil’s national cocktail poised for Olympic exposure | TribLIVE.com
Food & Drink

Brazil’s national cocktail poised for Olympic exposure

Jason Cato
| Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:00 p.m
BrazilNationalDrinkJPEG94b40
In this May 10, 2016, photo, bartender Rafaella Demelo pours two bar spoons of sugar onto 1.5 ounces of Leblon and half a lime cut in cubes as she prepares a caipirinha at Bulla, a bar in Coral Gables, Fla. It’s tempting to call cachaca a Brazilian rum and think of the caipirinha as another muddled tropical cocktail. The upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro may change that. Brazil’s national cocktail and unique distillation of sugarcane juice into a clear liquor are poised for the kind of worldwide exposure enjoyed by tequila after the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and Australian wines after the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.
BrazilNationalDrinkJPEG88044
In this May 10, 2016 photo, bartender Rafaella Demelo adds a lime wedge for the final touch as a caipirinha is ready to be served at Bulla, a bar in Coral Gables, Fla. It’s tempting to call cachaca a Brazilian rum and think of the caipirinha as another muddled tropical cocktail. The upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro may change that. Brazil’s national cocktail and unique distillation of sugarcane juice into a clear liquor are poised for the kind of worldwide exposure enjoyed by tequila after the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and Australian wines after the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.

It’s tempting to call cachaça (pronounced ka-SHAH-sah) a Brazilian rum and think of the caipirinha as another muddled tropical cocktail.

The upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro may change that. Brazil’s national cocktail and unique distillation of sugarcane juice into a clear liquor are poised for the kind of worldwide exposure enjoyed by tequila after the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and Australian wines after the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.

“We Americans love to consume the Olympics and ‘travel’ there without going there by drinking and eating and celebrating the culture of whatever the host country is,” says Steve Luttmann, president and CEO of Leblon Cachaça. So I think a lot of people are going to be watching the Olympic Games with a caipirinha in their hands.”

Cachaça and rum share origins in sugarcane but they are processed differently.

Cachaça, by definition, must be produced in Brazil with fresh sugarcane juice and contain alcohol by volume of 38 to 48 percent. Rum can be made anywhere, and it’s usually made from molasses and distilled at higher percentages of alcohol by volume.

The U.S. formally recognized cachaça as a distinct product of Brazil in 2013 after the two countries signed a trade agreement. In exchange, Brazil recognized bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as distinctive U.S. products.

The market for cachaça has steadily grown over the past decade, alongside the liquor industry’s targeting of U.S. consumers’ growing appreciation for premium rums. In April, 10 cachaça producers seeking U.S. distribution occupied a significant amount of trade expo space at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

When Leblon launched in 2005, U.S. cachaça sales totaled just a few thousand cases sold mainly in Brazilian restaurants. Now owned by Bermuda-based industry giant Bacardi, Leblon boasts annual sales of 50,000 9-liter cases, Luttmann says.

“We found that when anybody consumed cachaça with the expectation of a rum, it tastes very different,” says Luttmann, who led a “Legalize Cachaça” campaign to have the liquor recognized independently from rum.

While the caipirinha’s sweet, tropical flavors may resemble a mojito, it’s closer in spirit to a margarita.

“I would say that cachaça is more similar to tequila than rum,” Luttmann says. “It’s more similar to making tequila than it is to making a rum, in the context that they both use fresh juices from the raw material, from the fruit.”

Caipirinha has gained popularity in many bars, particularly those that hosted viewing parties for Brazil’s World Cup two years ago.

A true caipirinha — cachaça mixed with limes and ice — seems light but requires precision when mixing, says Rafaella Demelo, a Brazilian native and bartender at Bulla Gastrobar in Coral Gables, Fla.

“It’s a very simple drink, but it’s very hard to get it right. Not only do you have to know the amount of liquor to put in it, but also the amount of limes to put in it, and the sugar as well,” she says.

Aside from proper amounts of cachaça and sugar, half a lime should be cut into cubes, “because a caipirinha is not only about the juice of the limes, but also about the bitters, the skin of the limes,” Demelo say.

Shake the ingredients with ice and pour into a glass without straining.

“It has to be everything you used to make a caipirinha straight to the glass, otherwise you’re not going to have the lime, you’re not going to have the smell,” Demelo says.

Jennifer Kay is an Associated Press staff writer.

Caipirinha

Recipe from Bulla Gastrobar, in Coral Gables, Fla.:

1 12 ounces cachaça

Half a lime cut into cubes

2 bar spoons of sugar

Ice

Lime wheel for garnish

In a rocks glass, muddle the lime and sugar until well combined. Add cachaça, then pour into a shaker, add ice and shake vigorously. Pour everything back into original glass so that the contents mix with sugar that was left over in the muddle glass. Once combined, pour into a fresh rocks glass and serve with a lime wheel.

Daiquiri Posto Nove

Bulla Gastrobar mixologist Joel Mesa has created a daiquiri alternative that replaces rum with cachaça and adds mango to infuse the cocktail with more flavor. “The balance between the sweetness and acidity is just gorgeous,” he says, “much like this very popular part of Ipanema Beach that this is named after — the closest you can get to there without being there.”

Thick slice of mango, muddled

12 ounce lemon juice

1 ounce simple syrup

12 ounce blackberry brandy

12 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1 12 ounces cachaça

Lime wheel for garnish

Add the ingredients to a shaker and shake well. Pour through a strainer into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

Amazon Acai Sangria

1 ounce Leblon cachaça

4 ounce white Zinfandel wine

2 ounce white cranberry juice

1 ounce açai syrup

Ice

Lemon-lime soda

Blueberries, lemon for garnish

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass, then shake them all together with ice. Pour into a highball glass, then top with lemon-lime soda and garnish with blueberries and lemon.

Leblon’s Amazonia

2 ounces Leblon Cachaça

2 ouncer white cranberry juice

12 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur

14 ounce fresh lime juice

4 basil leaves

Ice

Champagne, to top

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the Champagne, in a shaker. Shake vigorously with ice and strain over ice into a highball glass. Splash with Champagne and serve.

Jason Cato is a Tribune-Review assistant city editor. You can contact Jason at 412-320-7936, jcato@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Categories: Food Drink
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