What the Russians of vodka, the Scotch of whiskey and the Mexicans of tequila, that is Cachaca (pronounced Kachassah) the Brazilians. The sweet-spicy spirit is distilled in contrast to the more familiar rum exclusively from fermented sugar cane juice. Cachaca is produced only in its native Brazil, where the name enjoys legal protection. The alcohol content is 38 to 48 percent by volume. An optional sugar additive must not exceed thirty grams per liter and must be identified on the bottle. The Cachaca ranks third among the most popular spirits worldwide. In Germany he usually uses cachaca cocktails.
Cachaca – Economic importance
Most of the companies that produce the drink are located in the east and northeast of Brazil. The country's most popular spirits are fired in large factories as well as small craft businesses. Accordingly, one differentiates the Cachaca Industrial from the Cachaca Artesanal, which is produced on a small scale in the classic copper bladder. The large number of small businesses is explained by the fact that many distilleries have settled in the immediate vicinity of the plantations in order to process the sugar cane as fresh as possible.
It is estimated that there are 40,000 producers, of which only about 4,000 are registered. The small businesses play virtually no role in exporting. By contrast, the few industrial companies account for around two thirds of nationwide production and most of the export. According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Cachaça, 1.3 billion liters are produced annually in Brazil. However, only about one percent of this is exported, most of it to Germany. Other important export countries are the USA, Japan, France, Canada and Australia.
The Cachaca and its history
Brazil is now the world's largest exporter of sugarcane. It is easy to forget that this sweetgrass actually originates from East Asia and is not native to it. In 1529, the Portuguese shifted the focus of their sugarcane production from Madeira to South America and opened the first sugarcane plantations on the Brazilian coast.
Cachaça was the name of the foam that forms on the surface of the boiled sugarcane in large boiling cauldrons. For the Portuguese it was rubbish, but the black slaves scooped it off and made it the first cachaca. They appreciated the high-proof drink, which gave them strength for the heavy physical work and helped them endure effort and pain better. The plantation owners quickly recognized these benefits. In 1663 João Fernando Vieira wrote to the new overseer of his sugar cane mills that the slaves would only start working hard if they had received their daily portion of cachaca. In 1780, the governor of the state of Minas Gerais called the cachaca a staple food for the laborers.
Two Cachaca memorial days for a piece of Brazilian identity
Not only did the slaves appreciate the brew, but their masters too spoke to the Cachaca, much to the displeasure of the Portuguese government. Since 1630, the Portuguese tried to sell a pomace brandy from the local winemaking, the Bagaceira, in their South American colonies. In 1635, the king banned the production, distribution and sale of his favorite Brazilian drink. The Cachaca went underground and lived on cheerfully, so in 1659 a new royal decree tightened the restrictions even further. As a result, in 1660 a group of Cachaca burners in Rio de Janeiro rebelled and took control of the city. This uprising paved the way for the legalization of the Cachaca on September 13, 1661. The Sociedade Brasileira da Cachaça, a Brazilian government organization, took the opportunity to celebrate 13 September as Dia Nacional da Cachaça.
Once again, on June 12, 1744, the Portuguese crown tried to ban the drink. This led to a popular uprising, at the end of which the Portuguese had to yield again. And the 12th of June was also a day of remembrance, but internationally in the form of the International Cachaça Day.
In 1822, Brazil became independent of Portugal, and the Cachaca has established itself as a symbol of Brazilian national pride. He stands for national self-determination after the abolition of colonialism and slavery and belongs to Brazil's identity as Copa Cabana, Carnival in Rio and Pelé.
Relaxation not only for people
Not only the slaves knew how to use the relaxing effect. In 1959, the American cookbook author James Beard described that in Brazil, turkeys would receive large quantities of cachaca before slaughtering. So they would be much more relaxed while slaughtering and their flesh would be much more tender.
Taste and Use of Cachaca
Characteristic is the taste of fresh sugarcane juice, which is complemented by fine aromas of grass and citrus and fruity notes of banana or papaya. This makes it a versatile base for Cachaca cocktails.
He is best known in Europe as part of the "little peasant girl". This is the literal translation of the Portuguese Caipirinha. According to legend, the forerunner of caipirinha from cachaca, lemon, garlic and honey was a folk medicine against the Spanish flu. Now garlic-free, the drink made from cachaca, lime juice, sugar and ice cream is an indispensable element of every cocktail menu. By the way: just as James Bond stirred his martini, not shaken, the lime should be crushed at the caipirinha, not expressed.
Speaking of shaking: the various variants of Batida, the "shaken", are among the well-known Cachaca cocktails. For this purpose, fruit juice or pureed fruit and sugar are used, which perfectly complement the aroma of Cachaca.
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