Monday, July 16, 2012
Like a lot of people in the liquor world, I haven't spent a lot of time lately troubling my mind about the fate of Cachaça. Sure, it was fun falling in love with the Caipirinha several years ago. It was delicious and easy to make, and vaguely exotic. But the Cachaça folks haven't given us much of a follow-up thrill since then, and the industry battle to have the liquor recognized as a separate category by the American government (and not as "Brazilian rum") grew rather tedious after a while.
However, that campaign eventually succeeded. By summer's end, Cachaça will have gotten the respect from Washington D.C. that it so long desired. In other news, Diageo got into the Cachaça game, buying the huge Ypióca brand for $470 million. Clearly, Diageo things the sugar-cane booze has a future. Given those events, I felt it was time to reappraise the status of Cachaça in the United States.
Here's the story I wrote for the New York Times:
Monday, May 16, 2011
This is the first sight that greeted me at this year's Manhattan Cocktail Classic convention. A bright lime-green Leblon Cachaça truck. In a city gone truck-food mad, why not?
At first, I thought they were passing out Caipirinhas. But that might actually be illegal or something. Not sure. Anyway they weren't. They were giving out something better: Cachaça sorbets.
And just to show Leblon has not given up on its quixotic fight with the U.S. Government's labeling of Cachaça:
Friday, July 20, 2007
Hallelujah! The internet works on the rooftop Riverview Room, somehow. The room is the location of the "South American Spirits" seminar, presented by Junior Merino and Ed Nesta. So we're in the land of Pisco and Cachaca. Each attendee is equipped with a muddler and a cup of limes.
I rode up in the elevator with an amusing bartender who works at the Swizzle Stick, a cocktail destination here in NoLa, and a popular spot with the Tales of the Cocktail crowd. Apparently, the TOTC mafia put him through a workout the evening before. "All the cocktail guys with nicknames were there last night," he said wearily.
So Pisco is a brandy, dontcha know? We're told of the grapes used to distill Pisco. It's the first I've heard about grapes this week, a reminder that there is such a thing as wine in the drinking world. Anyway, apparently, Chile and Peru like to fight about who invented it, and each country has its own way of making it, using different types of stills and aging processes.
And what's a seminar without drinks? We sampled a Pisco Sour (which includes egg whites, which will have to serve as my breakfast today); Caipiranha (which I've been alternating with Pimm's Cups as my home cocktail for most of this summer), La Rayuela (made with Picso, Damiana Liqueur, Aloe Vera juice, Quince syrup, and lime juice, topped with lime zest, and ridiulously refreshing), and Saude (which, ironically, means "Health" in Portuguese, because it contains an ounce of the prune-juice-like Acai). Saude is a ruby-red drink, a nice bit of color among all the citrus hues.
For the Caipiranha, it was audience participation time. No instructor had to tell me how to do this. We did this to the accompaniment of some percussive Latin music. First mood music of the convention. It made quite a difference. From now on, I'm demanding background music at every seminar.