Monday 13 September was “Brazilian Cachaça Day”. With my pal and esteemed travel writer Jane Egginton, I was invited to taste some cachaças and cocktails at The Langham in London’s West End. Of course Brazilian Cachaça Day is entirely different to International Cachaça Day held on 15 June this year.
I am not a big drinker of spirits and certainly not of Cachaça. In Brazil last September I cannot recall ever drinking it, though we were in Rio Grande do Sul, which is a very Un-Brazilian part of the country. Jane, who has written numerous guide books to the country, gave me some Cachaça (and chemical weapon wine from her local off licence) her flat a while ago and it was not a pleasant experience. But some of the stuff here was really quite good – smooth and flavoursome. On the whole, though, it is better mixed into a cocktail.
Some stats were thrown at us. Brazil produces 1.2 billion litres of Cachaça annually but only 1% is exported. Brazilians tend to drink it neat rather than in a fancy cocktail – crushed ice is a luxury in South America!
The delightful Fabrína Volpato was here to represent Autêntica, which we were told was “the first brand of Cachaça (to be) sold in Duty Free shops.” Not something I would boast about but I suppose it pays the bills. The “Autêntica Sunrise” cocktail was rather flabby – I prefer something a bit more lively.
Cachaça Batista’s “Casca d’Anta” was very sweet and sickly, with a spoon of sugar mixed in with Cassis and pineapple juice. Blurgh.
The “Passion” (™, no less) of Bossa was fruity, easy and mouth-watering – not dissimilar to Fab Louis, who presented Bossa. He would be a huge hit in the nightclubs of Vauxhall. Sorry boys – he’s not interested.
The coffee-flavoured “Iced Cinnamon Latte” by Flor do Vale was good, as was the medicinal-smelling Poções “Special”.
The 300,000 banana trees at Germana justify the use of a banana leaf cover on the bottle. The “Apple Daiquiri” was just too strong for me – Calvados and Cachaça is a combination as lethal as Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty.
Leblon is “the world’s first ultra-premium (i.e. expensive) Cachaça, combining the alluring culture of Brazil with the history of its national spirit while adding a touch of French refinement.” So there. I am often amused and bemused by wine PR bullshit but spirits take this dark art to a whole new level. PITÚ’s “New Key Visual” depicts “A good-looking Brazilian drummer (who) represents the Brazilian way of life”. The “PITÚmingu” cocktail was as red as my jumper and sickly – all that syrupy Grenadine.
Velho Barreiro has made Cachaça since 1873. Its “O Draque” was a “rustic” style of cocktail, which I liked, though it was very sweet.
I have not had a warm cocktail before but the charmingly named “Chocolate Dream” of Vila Pongó had a good slug of hot chocolate in it. The minty and dry Weber Haus cocktail was pleasing.
What is the “most respected national Cachaça ranking in Brazil”? The Playboy Magazine poll, according to Magnifica.