Sunday, November 10, 2019

Craft Beer Concoctions Test Kitchen: Cachaca

To start, you might be asking, "What's Cachaca?" A few weeks ago we wouldn't have known the answer and one of us would have had to consult Google to find out. Now we know that it is the oldest distilled spirit in South America and made from sugar cane. Sugar cane was cultivated on the continent's coast for the purpose of being harvested and shipped to Portugal back in the day. The plant's inclination to grow like a weed also meant it was a ready raw ingredient to ferment.

How we came to be interested in it was by meeting local Cachaca distributor Bob Nathanson of 3G Spirits. A cousin-of-sorts to rum from the standpoint that rum can be made from sugar cane (although most is distilled from molasses), Cachaca's flavor profile is wide-ranging. For the purposes of the our Test Kitchen we utilized four varieties of the spirit. Three came from Famosinha (via 3G Spirits), two of which were cask aged, and one from Avua. To become more familiar with their flavor profiles before we started the mixology, we sampled each on its own, an experience that was a further education of our palates.

In general we have found that our most successful craft beer cocktails have skewed fruity (but not overly sweet) and summery. This spirit from South America seemed well suited to our crafting and the following are three of our best creations.

I Love You Like a Mango
- Avua Silver Cachaca
- Founders Mas Agave
- Mango juice
- Lime marmalade syrup
- Fresh lime wedge & lemon wheel for garnish

We counted ourselves lucky to find a bottle of Founders Mas Agave on the shelves of Hollywood Beverage as this is both a delicious beer and one that we found to work well in many, many cocktails. Here it is complimented by delicate sweetness from the mango juice and lime marmalade syrup and boosted by the Cachaca.

White Oak Holiday 
- Oak-aged Famoshinha Cachaca
- The Bruery Orxata
- Walnut bitters
- The Barreled Bee honey
- Cinnamon
- Orange peel garnish

This lightly sweet cocktail uses a horchata-inspired beer from The Brewery and one of the two cask-aged Cachacas. By some mixology magic the ingredients combined to become an adults-only orange creamsicle.

Jalapeno Invader
- Famoshinha Cherry Cask Cachaca
- Great Notion Pineapple Juice Invader IPA
- Spicy pineapple syrup
- Tajin dusted pineapple slice
- Candied jalapeno slice

Using the spicy-sweet pairing of pineapple and jalapeno as the basis for this beer cocktail, the Cachaca added a slightly woody backbone and complimentary flavor to the other ingredients. For those that haven't used tajin, it is a chili/lime seasoning from Mexico that has vast applications, including use on fruit, vegetables, cocktail glass rims, etc.

Huge thanks to Bob and wife, Sarah for joining us at this Test Kitchen. They are a wealth of knowledge about Cachaca and generous sharers of the product. Also thanks to our small, but faithful group of Test Kitchen guinea pigs that continue to join us on our adventure.