The first post in our ‘Man Cave Poison’ series, in which Andrew explores the unheard of and underrated booze you wouldn’t typically drink in your Man Cave. Cachaça, a Brazilian rum made sugar cane juice, kicks things off.
The legend goes that the Spanish Flu, which killed millions in 1918, had reached Brazil in an awful way. Rio De Janiero was littered with the corpses of loved ones and the standard home remedy of garlic, lime and sugar syrup wasn’t working. But, as things of this nature occur, time remedied those left behind and healed all wounds. And those left behind, those left to bury the dead, turned to the local liquor for consolation. Made from the acres of sugar cane that littered the country, cachaça is the Brazilian rum that makes the perfect summer cocktail, minus the garlic.
While the typical cachaça is stronger than hell, similar to the moonshine that comes out of the Appalachian or the poitin from the Irish distill, toned down versions have been made by companies, Ypioca, Beija and the legendary Milagre de Minas. And while the liquor does have a rough rap about the strength, which this man is trying to correct, the power and pleasure of enjoying a nice Caipirinha with the sun shining, a vague humidity in the air and the smell of dinner wafting out of the kitchen proves to be suddenly irresistible.
The Caipirinha is as simple as most cocktails get: cachaça, sugar, lime and ice, sloshed together and drunk copiously. There is an old rule that no cocktail should be more than three ingredients, with ice being optional and to the Brazilians, the Caipirinha is their answer to an unasked question. Similar to the Mexican Margarita or even comparable to the smooth and sophisticated Martini, this cocktail is a difficult one to put down. Well, they’re easy to put down but hard to set down and walk away – you get the picture.
What I’d like to see is the following: a change in the normalcy of your liquor shopping: pick up your weekly bottle of Highland Stag, go for it! But pick up another bottle as well, something you haven’t tried before. I’ve got a friend who, as her New Year’s resolution, determined to buy and try a liquor or liqueur she had never had before and I thought it was brilliant. Aperol? She’s got it. Fernet Branca? Sure. Cachaça? We’ll try to push her towards that but this month was Mezcal.
When it’s hot and you’re sweating bullets, set down the Kronenberg and feel free to sacrifice a little more moisture to a proper cocktail. There are as many variations on the Caipirinha as there are for bread but remember that simpler is better, both in the evening and the morning after. Rum, lime and sugar and you should be doing just fine. So sweat out the summer by pouring Brazilian rum down your gullet, visiting your outside Man Cave of the backyard and do me a favor?
Enjoy yourself a bit.