Cachaça (pronounced ka-sha-sa) is the national spirit of Brazil, and the first style of rum produced in the Americas. In the early 1500s, the Portuguese brought sugarcane from the island of Madeira initiating the crop’s cultivation in the New World. Pot stills quickly followed the sugarcane and cachaça was born. So, for almost five hundred years this liquor has been intertwined with Brazilian culture.
Cachaça belongs in in the rum family, as it’s distilled from sugarcane. However, it differs from other rums in several ways. Cachaça is made by distilling fresh sugarcane juice, which sets it apart from English and Spanish rums that ferment molasses. Cachaça is more similar to the French style rhum agricole that also come from fermenting sugarcane juice, but cachaça must come from Brazilian sugarcane and undergoes only one distillation. Avuà uses four varieties of sugarcane for their various types of cachaça, and sources it from the area surrounding Rio de Janeiro. Cachaça is clear after distillation, so Avuá Amburana gets its honey coloration from spending 2 years in Amburana wood barrels. Amburana is a tree native to Brazil and plays a significant role developing the unique flavor.
Avuá Amburana is one of the most aromatic spirits I have ever tried. Notes of cinnamon, cloves, orange, honeysuckle, and warm custard come through with each deep inhalation. The taste reflects the aroma, with a flavor profile yielding hints of honey and a woodsy element that must come from the distinct type of wood.
You can experiment with Avuá Amburana in many different ways. Try using it in your favorite cocktails as a substitute for your favorite rums. You could even see how it fairs in cocktails with milder whiskeys.
THIRST AND HUNGER
Twist on a Classic: Caipirinha
Caipirinhas are the quintessential Brazilian drink, and the most popular way to use cachaça. Using Avuá Amburana brings a new element to this classic as the aging process brings a more nuance to this classic. In addition, I included some pineapple juice for another layer of flavor.
For the drink:
-2 ounces Avuá Amburana
-1 whole lime
-½ oz pineapple juice
-¾ oz simple syrup
Cut the lime into 8 pieces. Add the simple syrup, pineapple juice, and lime slices to a cocktail shaker and muddle for about 20-30 seconds. Add the Avuá and ice and shake for 10-15 seconds. I strained it, but for the traditional serving don’t strain and pour the contents of the shaker directly into your rocks glass.
Something Original: ¿Meu nome é Ronaldo Burgundy? (My name is Ron Burgundy?)
The name for this one came after my wife Sarah saw me drinking it and commented how she loved the burgundy color. This drink pairs many bold flavors. I especially liked the L’Afrique sweet vermouth that is slightly drier.
For the drink
-2 oz Avuá Amburana
-1 oz sweet vermouth (Hammer & Tongs L’Afrique)
-1 oz fresh lime juice
-½ oz simple syrup
-1/16 oz orange blossom water
-1 egg white
Place your fizz glass in the freezer. Combine the drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake without ice for 45 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 10 seconds. Pour through a Hawthorne and fine mesh strainer. Allow the drink to settle for a minute or two.
Eat Your Spirit: Cachaça Baba
I love Great British Bake Off. One dessert that has shown up several times on the show is the rum baba. I've been interested in making them for a while and trying to come up with a food to incorporate cachaça gave me the opportunity, with a slight wrinkle. Soaking the pastry in the cachaça and simple syrup paired wonderfully with the grapefruit zest and craisins.
For the batter:
-1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
-1/16 cup sugar
-1 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
-¼ cup water room temperature
-2 large eggs
-1 ½ teaspoons grated grapefruit zest
-8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces (room temperature)
-1/3 cup craisins
-¼ teaspoon salt
For the syrup:
-½ cup water
-½ cup sugar
-¼ cup Avuá Amburana
-Whisk together the flour, sugar, and instant yeast in a bowl.
-In a stand mixer, add the water, eggs, and grapefruit zest. Mix on low with a paddle attachment for about 15 seconds to combine.
-Slowly add in the flour mixture while running the mixer at a slow speed for 2 minutes.
-Gradually add each piece of butter and mix on low for another 2 minutes.
-Add the craisins and salt and mix for another 15 seconds.
-Grease a cupcake tin with butter and fill each tin about halfway with batter. Tear off a piece of cling wrap large enough to cover the tin and spray lightly with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 2 hours.
-With about fifteen minutes left in the rise, turn the oven to 375 degrees.
-Bake for about 12 minutes, turning halfway through. Check the doneness with a toothpick or knife.
-Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for five minutes.
-While cooling, start making the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a pot on the stove. Turn it to medium high and stir until the sugar dissolves. Avoid boiling the syrup.
-Off heat, stir in the Avuá Amburana. Using tongs roll each baba in the syrup for about 5 seconds ensuring every part is submerged at some point.
-Place back on the wire rack or enjoy right away
BRAZIL: RIO DE JANEIRO
This post, like others about regions I have not been to, means this section of the post is a little different. So, I’ll list some things on my itinerary if I were to visit Rio de Janeiro one day and provide some links to sites I trust.
-Just north of Rio, there is a museum dedicated to the history of Cachaça.
-Visit Maracanã soccer stadium, one of the most famous stadiums in the world. The most famous Brazilian soccer players have all played in here.
-The Tijuca Forest is one of the largest urban forests in the world and has numerous hiking trails.
Food and Drink:
-Feijoada! And so many more national dishes to try in Rio.
-It wouldn’t be the collarless without cocktail bars.