Posts Tagged ‘cachaca’

Twenty Eight: Downtown Rio

July 20, 2009

One last blast on the cachaca front – it turns out that I’ve only got two weeks to put together a recipe for the 2010 Cocktail World Cup, so the next batch of drinks are going to be more focused on a certain Antipodean vodka.

Anyhow, aged cachaca worked pretty well in a twist on the traditional Old-Fashioned. How does it fare in a modified Manhattan?

Good, as it happens. Abelha Gold is aged for three years but it won’t stand up to a particularly robust style of sweet vermouth, so it’s probably worth leaving the Punt E Mes and the Dubonnet in the fridge.

Downtown Rio
50ml Abelha Gold cachaca
20ml Martini Rosso
1 barspoon maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Angostura Orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist.

Advertisements

Twenty Six: Federação

July 12, 2009

We’ve been experiencing a small technical issue, so bear with us. We’re trying to find a way to kick off another post about cachaca and, of course, the obvious thing to do is make a joke about Brazil’s notable exports – sugar, bikini waxes, footballing humiliation – and follow the punchline with the words “and now there’s one more: cachaca.”

The problem is 1) doing this in a slightly less clichéd manner, and 2) without sounding like a total prick. Don’t worry, we’ve got the guys from Grammar & Syntax doing their thing and we can get things kicked off in just…a couple…of…

…And now there’s one more: cachaca.

There are aspects of the spirit that are still to be fully revealed to markets outside of Brazil and while some varieties are available in the UK, I suspect that aged cachacas are one of those categories. Abelha Gold is aged for three years in small barrels made from garapeira – a Brazilian hardwood – which gives the liquid a fantastic golden amber colour. The aroma is reminiscent of an anejo tequila – the vegetal notes are less pronounced, with hints of vanilla, cinnamon and caramel. It’s a proper grown-up spirit with a great range of flavour. Being honest, it’s the first aged cachaca I’ve spent much time with, but it’s made me eager to try more.

Federação
50ml Abelha Gold Cachaca
2 barspoons sugar cane syrup
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
15ml pressed apple juice
Place the bitters and syrup in the base of a rocks/old-fashioned glass. Add a couple of ice cubes and stir to thin out the mixture. Add the cachaca, fill the glass with ice and stir. Float the apple juice and garnish with an apple fan.

Twenty Four & Twenty Five: Colisão & Plantação

July 8, 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot about cachaca recently. This is not unconnected to receiving a couple of samples from Anthony at Abelha Cachaca the other day. It might be the third most popular spirit in the world, but cachaca is in pretty similar position to that of vodka in the 1950s/60s – there is a global awareness of the product, but the majority of the spirit produced is not exported and it hasn’t quite hit the mainstream in the export markets yet. Wikipedia suggests that only 1% of the 1.3 billion litres of cachaca produced annually are exported. While the availability of cachaca outside of Brazil is on the increase, we’re still at the stage where there are only a handful of notable brands – Sagatiba, Germana, Ypioca, to name three.

This is probably an excellent time to launch an organic, artesanal brand into the UK market. But I tend to be pretty busy most days, what with the working and the not working and the sleeping and the not going to Tales of the Cocktail, so it’s helpful that Abelha have been bringing some over for a couple of months now. Both expressions are small batch, artesanal (pot-distilled, as opposed to the column distilled “industrial” style) cachacas – the Silver is unaged while the Gold is aged for three years in small (250ltr) Brazillian hardwood barrels.

I’ll write about the Gold in more depth tomorrow, but I was completely blown away by the Silver. On the nose it has those familiar vegetal notes that come with cachacas and rhums agricole, but it also has a pleasant honey scent with a touch of citrus to it. The mouth feel is great – a slightly viscous texture, with a strong finish but without chemical burn of column-still spirit. Esquire just listed Abelha as one of its top three cachacas, but I’m not sure if you need the other two.

Unfortunately, the sampler I got wasn’t big enough to try in some spirit/mixer combos, but there was just enough to make up a couple of cocktails.

The first thing I did was based around the other classic cachaca cocktail, the Batida. It’s the Caipirinha’s longer, more laid back cousin and totally deserving of some of the love thrown at the little peasant drink. I ended up crossbreeding it with a Smash, with the intention of coming up with something fruity for summer.

Colisão
45ml Abelha Silver Cachaca
25ml freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice
25ml pineapple juice
6-8 mint leaves
Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into an old-fashioned/rocks glass over crushed ice. Feel free to add a touch of gomme/simple syrup into the shaker to taste. Garnish with a grapefruit slice and a mint sprig.

After that, I decided to go old-school. Cachaca tends to be used in caipirinhas and long punch-style drinks and not a lot else, but the Abelha Silver struck me as something that would work really well as an alternative to a white rum. So, I went with a simple mod of a daiquiri.

Plantação
50ml Abelha Silver Cachaca
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice
10ml sugar cane syrup
1 barspoon Maraschino
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled martini/coupette glass. Twist a lime zest over the top and discard. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow, I’m getting to know the Abelha Gold.

Week Seven: Abelinha

February 21, 2009

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that a lot of the recipes I post use honey as a sweetening agent in cocktails. It has become something of a hallmark of my recipes, like the guy who always uses sherbet in his drinks, or the guy who can’t not use a foam.

One of the things I love about honey is its versatility. As with anything, different kinds of honey have different characteristics, from lighter varieties such as Acacia through to darker, more pungently flavoured ones like Manuka. Choosing the right one to complement the other flavours in a drink can be tougher than you think it’s going to be.

Honey also has a great heritage – it is, after all, the original sweetener. In Europe, man was using honey to add flavour to food and drink long before sugar cane was discovered. Since then, sugar spread like wildfire, inspiring creativity, commerce – not to mention war, slavery and cruelty on an industrial scale. Honey, on the other hand, stayed sweet.

Abelinha
50ml Cachaca
1 barspoon honey (works better with a lighter variety)
25ml pink grapefruit juice
25ml cranberry juice
25ml pineapple juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball. Garnish with a long grapefruit zest.

Abelha Cachaca

December 17, 2008

Abelha Cachaca recently stuck their head above the parapet to contribute to this month’s Mixology Monday, making them (possibly) the first brand to take part. Aside from the cool bottles, Abelha seem really passionate about making sure their product is organic and sustainable, as well as making sure their workers and contractors in Brazil get paid appropriately. Abelha is an alembique cachaca which means it’s majority 100% pot-distilled*, and it’s seemingly only available in London which means I can’t tell what it tastes like.

Y’know, if there are any samples lying around the office…

Update: Anthony from Abelha’s been in touch:

For Abelha Cachaça, both the Silver (rested) and Gold (aged 3 years) are *only* distilled in these traditional copper alembiques in small batches.

I do not know of any cachaças that are a blend between an alembique and industrial cachaça, but there well may be some. The manufacturer would probably not shout about such a thing.