Cachaça 101

Unique only to Brazil, Cachaça is pronounced ka-SHA-sa, with the emphasis on the ‘SHA.’ Like Hefeweizen, Fahrvergnugen, and Pinot Grigio, Cachaça is a foreign word easy to mispronounce – at least initially. As a newly adopted discovery, Cachaça is quickly becoming part of our ‘social currency’ lexicon. The same is happening for Cachaça’s cocktail sidekick, Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil popping up on cocktail menus across the country (pronounced kai-pur-EEN-ya, with the emphasis on the third syllable).

So what is Cachaça anyways? And is it a rum or not?

Cachaça is a Brazilian spirit distilled from fresh sugar cane juice. It is the third most consumed spirit in the world behind only vodka and soju/shochu, the Asian distillates made predominantly from rice. Historians date the initial creation of Cachaça somewhere between 1532 and 1550 in Brazil, predating the date of creation of rum (1651 in Barbados) by more than one hundred years.

Unlike Rum, which is usually made from molasses, Cachaça can only be made from fresh sugar cane juice, and can only be made in Brazil. Brazilian law requires that Cachaça be distilled no higher than 54% alcohol by volume, and bottled between 38% and 48% alcohol by volume. That being said, most exported Cachaça has an alcohol content similar to vodka, tequila, rum, or gin – 40% alcohol by volume (or 80 proof).

So why then the rum question? According to U.S. law, any spirit derived from sugar cane must be labeled as a rum – in Cachaça’s case, ‘Brazilian Rum.’ This nomenclature has been in dispute for some time, with discussion and consideration of separating Cachaça into its own ‘class,’ like tequila, or an ‘appellation’ within a broader class, like cognac and champagne. With the increasing popularity of Cachaça, more and more people are asking for the distinction, especially since the cultural and sensorial differences between rum and Cachaça are so significant.

So what are those sensorial differences? Since Cachaça is made from fresh pressed sugar cane juice, and not molasses (a derivative of sugar cane), it has a fruitier, fresher nose than rum. Its taste is subtly sweet and fresh, and since it comes directly from the crop, Cachaça has distinctive vegetal notes reminiscent of tequila (in fact, many mixologists and sommeliers liken Cachaça more to a tequila than a rum because of the unique vegetal notes in the nose).

How do you use Cachaça? In Brazil, Cachaça is consumed predominantly pure or in a Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. Made with muddled lime, the Caipirinha is now becoming a standard cocktail on menus across the country and the world. In addition, as a white spirit, Cachaça has amazing versatility, and is being used by bartenders and mixologists in their own creative concoctions, twists on classics (ie Brazilian Cosmos and Margarita Sambas to frozen drinks (‘batidas’) and bar chef cocktails (think: muddled strawberries with basil…).

So, now that you understand what Cachaça is, how to say it, and how to use it, we invite you to explore this wonderful new world. Is Cachaça the next Tequila? Is the Caipirinha the new Margarita? We have no idea – but we do know this: it’s a wonderful thing.

Class Schedule

Binny's Beverage Depot1132 S. JeffersonChicago, ILJune 6th4:00PM-7:00PM
Binny's Beverage Depot790 Royal GeorgeNaperville, ILJune 6th4:00PM-7:00PM
Ferry Wine Liquors158 Ferry StNewark, NJJune 7th 5:00PM-7:00PM
Wine Country5016 Hadley Center South Plainfield, NJJune 7th 4:00PM-6:00PM
Binny's Beverage Depot213 W. GrandChicago, ILJune 7th11:00AM-2:00PM
Bourbon St. Liqours1802 Rt 31 NorthClinton, NJJune 7th11:30AM-1:30PM
Bourbon St. Liqours1243 Rt 22 EastLenanon, NJJune 7th2:00PM-4:00PM
Sigels Store506 S. Industrial AveDallas, TXJune 12th 5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store15003 Inwood AveAddison, TXJune 12th 5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store1441 W. MockingbirdDallas, TXJune 12th 5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store5757 Greenville AveDallas, TXJune 12th5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store5636 Lemmon AveDallas, TXJune 12th5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store3209 N. FitzhughDallas, TXJune 12th5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store538 Centennial BlvdRichardson, TXJune 12th5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store2325 E. Intrst. 30Rockwall, TXJune 12th5:00PM-7:00PM
Sigels Store2800 Routh StDallas, TXJune 12th5:00PM-7:00PM
Oakland Store525 Embarcadero WestOakland, CAJune 13th4:00PM-7:00PM
Gold Standard153 Skokie ValeyHighland Park, ILJune 14th 2:00PM-3:00PM
Walnut Creek Store2220 Oak Grove RdWalnut Creek, CAJune 14th12:00PM-3:00PM
Crush Wine153 E 57th StNew York, NYJune 20th5:30PM-7:30PM
Beverages & More925A Camino de la ReinaSan Diego, CAJune 20th5:00PM-8:00PM
Beverages & More925 A Camine de la ReinaMission Valley, CAJune 20th5:00PM-8:00PM
Fairfield Grand Opening1545 Holiday LaneFairfield, CAJune 20th12:00PM-3:00PM
Mission Valley925 A Camine de la ReinaMission Valley, CAJune 20th5:00PM-8:00PM
Beverages & More28011 Greenfield DriveLaguna Niguel, CAJune 21st 4:00PM-7:00PM
Beverages & More2000 N Tustin Street Orange, CAJune 21st 12:00PM-3:00PM
Wittys Buy Rite478 Olf Bridge TpkSouth River, NJJune 21st 6:00PM-8:00PM
Santa Rosa Store2090 Santa Rosa AveSanta Rosa, CAJune 21st12:00PM-3:00PM
Orange2000 N Tustin StreetOrange. CAJune 21st12:00PM-3:00PM
Laguna Beach28011 Greenfield DriveLaguna Niguel, CAJune 21st4:00PM-7:00PM
Carmel Mountain11475 Carmel Mountain RoadSan Diego, CAJune 21st2:00PM-5:00PM
Salinas Grand Opening1900 North Davis Rd.Salinas, CAJune 22nd11:00AM-2:00PM
Beverages & More4175 Stevens Creek BlvdSanta Clara, CAJune 27th 4:00PM-7:00PM
Santa Clara Store4175 Stevens Creek BlvdSanta Clara, CAJune 27th4:00PM-7:00PM
Mega Liquor Store8680 SW 137th CtMiami, FLJune 28th 12:00PM-3:00PM
Ferry Wine Liqours158 Ferry StNewark, NJJune 28th 2:00PM-5:00PM
San Rafael Store 760 Francisco Blvd. WestSan Rafael, CAJune 28th12:00PM-3:00PM
Corona3642 Grand OaksCorona, CAJune 28th11:00AM-2:00PM
Union Square Wines and Spirits140 4th AveNew York, NYJune 28th2:00PM-5:00PM
Mega Discount Liquors9525 Westview DrCoral Springs, FLJune 28th12:00PM-3:00PM
Hedy's500 Mercer StHighstown, NJJuly 3rd 4:00PM-7:00PM
Colma Store4915 Junipero Serra BlvdDaly City, CAJuly 3rd4:00PM-7:00PM
ABC Liqours9894 Glades RoadBoca Raton, FLJuly 16th 6:00PM-8:00PM
Country Wine & Spirits 11368 Weston RoadWeston, FLJuly 18th6:00PM-9:00PM
Total Wine Boynton Beach850 North Congress Ave.Boynton Beach, FLJuly 19th2:00PM-5:00PM
Liquor & Wine4710 S. Flamingo RoadCooper City, FLJuly 19th3:00PM-6:00PM
Northlake Liquors94 Indian TraceWeston, FLAugust 8th
Wine King2439 Rt 34 SouthManasquan, NJAugust 9th 1:00PM-4:00PM
Crystal’s Liquors19491 Sheridan StPembroke Pines, FLAugust 9th