I was wondering about the history of the Caipirinha. When does it appear in cocktail books? Is there an approx. date for its creation?
Hey Michael, This is Dragos answering. Great question! The caipirinha does not have an exact creation story, much like cachaça itself. It’s said that sometime after sugarcane was introduced to Brazil by Portuguese colonists – probably in the early 16th century – a plantation owner gave a slave some sugarcane as gift. The cane was inadvertently left out in the sun after it was cut, and thus fermented on its own. The slaves discovered that it tasted happy and went on to make more. The caipirinha was invented sometime later in the countryside of Brazil – likely somewhere in the center of the country – but there is no story about when, where, and how. Much of this is that both cachaça and the caipirinha have been associated with poverty or country living, in fact creating a negative connotation that lives even this day. Only recently, due to the introduction of higher-quality cachaça for export, has the category captured the interest of Brazilian connoisseurs. Yet I personally know Brazilians who do not like cachaça, much because of its history and what it stands for – i.e. the drunk in the ditch outside the house or in the favellas of Rio. In fact, “caipirinha” is the diminutive for “caipira,” which means “hillbilly.” Caipira is also a dialect used in the countryside of central Brazil by this group of people, and it is hard to understand by most Brazilians. There is a great saying that the caipirinha is the best remedy for the common cold: lime gives you vitamin C, sugar gives you energy, and cachaça gives you happiness. Some claim that, in fact, this might be the origin of the caipirinha – medicine. Well, I doubt that, I think it’s just a justification, but nonetheless it’s great to share! Cheers!
In another question you stated that Novo Fogo is distilled only once in alembic stills. To what proof do you distill? How big are the stills? And is the output from the alembic run through what is called a "retort" or "thumper" to eliminate the need for a second distillation? Are the untaken heads and tails redistilled? I ask this because alembics alone almost always require two runs - a stripping run followed by a spirits run. Untaken foreshots, heads and tails are often redistilled as this is both effective and adds more flavor. Thanks..
The heart of the distllation, which is the only part we use, averages 48% - 54% ABV out of the still. The head and the tails are used only as cleaning agent for the distillery, starter for the boiler, and occasionally fuel for the cars. They are not redistilled and do not end up in the bottle in any way. Our still is 1,200 liters and we collect about 120 - 130 l of heart during one run. We believe that there is no need for double distillation if the cane is clean and the process careful. We use traditional methods and modern equipment to ensure that the cachaça tastes exactly like the cane that it comes from. (Take a look at this video: http://bit.ly/jhScTz.) In our case, that means rainforest blossoms, banana, lime blossom, and sea salt. These influences would start to disappear in a double distillation.
I used Sugar in the Raw when making my first Caipirinha - but what kind of sugar, or what brand, is the best for making this drink?
Fine sugar dissolves fast and easy; this is the usual choice in Brasil. Natural sugar has larger crystals, which means slower dissolve but more juice from the lime because of abrasion. You have to muddle longer and shake better with natural sugar! Also sugar syrup is OK because it is allowed by the Brasilian government recipe as sugar, and it mixes very well, but no abrasion to lime, so longer muddle! You can also mix the options. Eventually it is about the taste to be right, so find your own method!
Cachaça is a spirit distilled from sugar cane. It can only be made in Brasil, like tequila can only be made in Jalisco and pisco can only be made in Peru or Chile. People in the world drink more cachaça than tequila, whiskey, rum, or gin! Why? Because it is really good and it makes the world’s best cocktail, the caipirinha.
No, cachaça is not a rum. Rum is made from molasses, which is a by-product from the process of making sugar. Cachaça is made directly from sugarcane, from which we get the juice for fermentation and distillation. So cachaça is a purer spirit then rum. But: the U.S. government considers cachaça a rum. Well, we cannot explain it but this is what it is. So our bottles say both words – cachaça and rum!
It depends on the cachaça. In general, it is hard to describe it. Some industrial cachaça tastes like burned rubber! That is not good cachaça. Our cachaça is handcrafted and distilled in an alambique, so it is of high quality. You could detect some notes of tequila and rum in our cachaça, and our gold also has a bourbon-like finish because we age it in oak barrels. But it is an independent spirit and it tastes differently to all people. When you try it, please tell us how you think it tastes!
Absolutely not. If you distill a spirit too many times, it loses its soul. And also its flavor! So we distill our cachaça only once. We use pure sugar cane, grown organically and processed manually, with no chemicals, so why should we distill it twice? There are no impurities in it to remove through multiple distillation. But we do this: we remove the head and the tail of the distillate, and we only keep the optimal part – the heart.
Ah yes… the white clouds. All spirits up to 92 proof are susceptible to this “flocculation” in cold temperatures, when the ethyl esters in the spirit become clouds. To prevent this, many distillers process their spirits through “chill-filtering,” which reduces the concentration of esters, and also the aroma! Our cachaça is organic, made without preservatives, and we will not process our cachaça using any artificial methods. It’s better to have clouds than no flavor, right? And, anyway, the clouds go away after a while - just shake the bottle a little bit and the sun will shine.
No way. Our cachaça is organic, made without preservatives, and we will not process our cachaça using any artificial methods. It’s better to have clouds than no flavor, right?
Well, that is a delicate question! In Brasil, we only use silver cachaça for caipirinhas, and never gold cachaça! But our friends in Seattle sometimes like caipirinhas with the gold cachaça because it is smoother. It is an issue of preference!
Well, difficult question my friend… not! We say: “Silver in the summer, gold when you’re cold!”