Cachaça de Minas Gerais – João Andante

The liquid gold of  Brazil….Cachaça.

If you`re not familiar with cachaça i wrote a post about cachaça and rhum agricole long ago and tried to explain the difference between them since they both are made from sugarcane juice and yet so different.

The cachaça i have here now, João Andante – is a handcrafted artisanal aged cachaça from Minas Gerais – and it tastes wonderful…..

Minas Gerais is the biggest and best cachaça producing state in Brazil and one can always expect a good selection of cachaças from people from Minas Gerais.

João Andante has a sweet sugarcane nose with grassy earthy notes and it tastes sweet, buttery and earthty, complex and very smooth – and it`s 40% ABV or 80 proof.

It´s aged 2 years, one year in amburana wood and one year in oak. The amburana is known to give a light yellowish tone to the cachaça and so i guess the oak may impart some brownish/darker hues?

There´s not much to read about this cachaça online so i have no real good info on it´s history or how it´s made. Seeing to that there are so many cachaças in Brazil i really would like to see more brands exported, as it is now only a fraction that gets out of Brazil. I`m lucky to have a brazilian friend and i can safely say that i wouldn`t have been able to try the great cachaças i have tried otherwise.

I have actually only made caipirinhas with my João Andante because it really makes some killer caipirinhas….and just as with a classic daiquiri for real good rums – the simple combination of cachaça or rum and lime and sugar really allows the flavor of the spirit to shine through.

It also is a very good sipping cachaça especially with that buttery aftertaste but to round this post off i also made a vanilla version of a caipirinha.

The João Andante website is only in portugese unfortunately but there´s always google translate – but that doesn´t always get very accurate..

Vanilla Caipirinha

2 oz João Andante aged cachaça

1 large lime to muddle

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup or 2-3 heaped tsp brown sugar

seeds from one vanilla bean

Cut a large lime into 8 wedges and put them in a rocks glass, add vanilla seeds and sugar and muddle. Add cachaça and crushed ice and stir well. The crushed ice will melt a little and makes the flavors blend wonderfully.

I like sugar rims so i used some molasses sugar mixed with some of the vanilla seeds to rim this one but that´s not necessary. Then i added a vanilla bean as garnish.

Simple and good…this drink can of course be made with any good cachaça, preferably artisanal and i think aged goes better with the vanilla as both are naturally dark colored.

Caipirinha

Same as above but without vanilla bean. You may make all kinds of Caipirinha variations by adding fruits to the muddle. It´s such an easy drink to make and the key is good quality and fresh ingredients.

 

 

 

 

Sugarcane bar

 

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Cedilla – Açai Liqueur from the House of Leblon

Here comes Brazil!

I just got my hands on Leblon`s new açai liqueur…

Açai is a new macerated fruit liqueur made by Maison Leblon and is made from Zambazon açai berries from the Amazon region in Brazil. Straight from the rainforest, exotic and purple – yeah…this really speaks to me.

I “sort of” knew what açai berriers were ( i have heard about them in the context of heatlh) but i didn`t really know what they were and as usual when i get a sample of something new i start doing my reserach – so what exactly is açai berries?

The word açai – means “the berry that cries” – they are glossy blue and purple berries from Brazil contaning LOADS of antioxidants. The berries are the fruits of a palm tree that grows slowly under the humid and shady rainforest canopy in South and Central America and take 4-5 years before producing fruit.

The berry has a rich flavor similar to cherry with a hint of chocolate. The liqueur Cedilla is made with handpicked Zambazon açai berries and Zambazon means that they are certified organic & fair trade.

The berries are macerated and blended with the highest quality alambique Cachaça from the Maison Leblon in Patos de Minas, Brazil. And what you get is a rich fruity flavor with complex chocolate, spice, and berry notes. It`s bottled at ABV 25%.

Sounds good? well, it does to me….I was actually quite curious about the flavor of this product and disappointed i was not – instead i was rather surprised. It´s really yummy – fruity, complex, distinct and very much reminding of a finer ruby port.

There´s great ways to use it too, it goes down nicely neat of course but my main interest is to use it in mixed drinks.

Usually a good rule of thumb when it comes to local products is that they most often goes best together with other products from the same area or climate. So i went and searched for Brazilian recipes to either use as is or tweak a little bit to create something new.

But you also need to step outside the boundaries sometimes how else shall you discover something different and exciting? and to me – of course you can use this in tiki drinks too – you can use it in everything – despite that not being very Brazilian…but believe me i`m gonna try that too.

But the first drink that comes to mind when thinking about Brazil just has to be the caipirinha and mixed with cachaça, sugar and lime how can it be anything but glorious?

Açai Caipirinha

2 oz Leblon Cachaça
1 oz Cedilla
½ oz sugarcane syrup or 1-2 tsp fine sugar
6 lime wedges cut in quarters (1 large lime)

Muddle the limes and fine sugar or sugarcane syrup in a mixing glass. Add Cedilla and Leblon Cachaça. Fill with ice, shake well and pour all into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Very tasty!

And here´s another recipe i found over at Leblon:

Salvador Sling

2 oz Leblon Cachaça
1 oz Cedilla
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz ginger liqueur (i used Domaine de Canton)
2 oz pineapple juice
Dash of angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a highball or other glass filled with cracked ice, and garnish with a pineapple slice.

Oh this is yummy…this cocktail has a quite mature taste, it´s semi-sweet and there`s lots of “port” flavor in it from the Cedilla but also somehow the ginger flavor marries into it and makes the impression stronger.

An interesting variety would be to muddle fresh ginger into this instead of the liqueur.

This is a sip and savor kinda cocktail.

And now it´s time for a tiki drink as well and since Cedilla has a taste of a light ruby port i think it would be interesting to make a twist of Martin Cate´s “Dead Reckoning” and switch the tawny port for Cedilla and the rum for aged cachaca and a high proof dark rum with attitude like Smith and Cross. And finally switch the angostura bitters for one – just one dash of Mozart chocolate bitters….

Brazilian Dead Reckoning

1 oz fresh lemon juice

1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

0.5 oz Navan vanilla liqueur

0.5 oz Cedilla

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

1 oz Leblon Reserva aged cachaca

1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1 dash chocolate bitters (Mozart)

1 oz soda water

Well well well…..this was a DRINK!! very strong, very spicy…with that hint of chocolate…just the way i like it! when the ice dilutes it just a little bit it becomes perfect!

I have to say that Cedilla acai liqueur is a very good liqueur indeed…and you can do a lot with it – it fits in most styles of cocktails – go get it!

I don´t know where it´s sold right now outside of Brazil or if it even is but you may contact Leblon to find out.

I really like the Cedilla! it´s tasty, versatile, exotic and warm!

On a sidenote – the word Cedilla is from the Old Spanish name for the letter, ceda (zeta) A cedilla – also known as cedilha or cédille, is a hook ( ¸ ) added under certain letters as a accent mark to modify their pronunciation. In this case it becomes a “soft” c.

Pictures of acai berries at the plantation are courtesy the House of Leblon.

WINE BASED COCKTAILS

This is a cross post with the Mixoloseum blog. Every month the members of the CSWOG (Cocktails and Spirits Online Writers Group) posts on several interesting topics related to the world of cocktails and spirits. From after this post i`m not going to cross post but i will always write an update here on my blog when i post on the Mixoloseum blog.

Wine in cocktails dates back to somewhere in the in the mid-19th century and were very popular in the 60s and the 80s and then they seemed to have more or less dissappeared – until now that is. Now they are slowly becoming popular again but its not the old style wine cocktails we are talking about, the new winetails are innovative and uses fresh fruits and spices. A wine cocktail both cleanses the palate and is refreshing before dinner.

Wine as cocktail ingredient also lovers the alcohol content and makes cocktails more food friendly and wine cocktails-food pairing is an interesting subject. If reduced to a syrup some of the acid content is toned down and the flavors becomes more concentrated, that way it can be used in small quantities to add a specific flavor component to a cocktail. Interesting area of experimentation!

And don`t forget the grapes! Checking what types of grapes the wine is made of and their taste notes and pairing those flavor notes with similar and complementing flavors in the mixers and spirits creates harmony and balance.

Thus i have tried my best to do that and the wine i have used here is a dry organical wine from Sicily with taste notes of grapefruit, pineapple,honey and white pepper and these i have paired with fresh pineapple, ginger and white rum.

Personally i`m very fond of sparkling wines and in my opinion a little topping of a lively sparkling wine makes for a happy wine cocktail, especially now in the spring and summertime.Red wine is naturally better suited for fall and winter and white and rosé for the spring and summer.

Here is a light and refreshing summer drink with a sturdy ginger flavor.

CASABLANCA

 casablanca-new

1 oz white rum (i used Elements Eight)

1 oz fruity white wine (i used Kalis grillo)

2 thin ginger slices

3-4 pineapple chunks

0.5 oz ginger syrup

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

Top with a fruity sparkling white wine

Garnish pineapple stick and something green ( i used a fig leaf)

Crushed ice

Muddle ginger, pineapple and ginger syrup in shaker.Add fresh lime juice and rum, shake. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice and top with sparkling white wine. Garnish with pineapple stick and the leaf.

This drink is perfect on a warm sunny day before or after a hot meal.

The next drink is a simple take on the Caipirinha just adding the same white wine with citrus and pineapple notes as i used in Casablanca plus a topping of some sparkling rosé.

WINE CAIPIRINHA

wine-caipirinha

 ½ lime cut in quarters

1 tsp fine raw sugar

1 oz cachaca (i used Leblon)

1 oz white wine with citrus fruit notes

1 oz jamaica (or sub 0.5 oz hibiscus grenadine)

Top with sparkling rosè wine

Muddle lime and sugar, add cachaca, wine and 0.5 oz jamaica and shake over ice and pour into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Top with sparkiling rosè wine and remaining jamaica.

Garnish with lime wheels.

To make the lime wheels: Stick a chopstick through a lime and start cutting the lime all the way down to the stick in a spiral manner all around.The difficulty with this garnish is to cut even slices that aren´t too thick..you need a thin sharp knife to begin with (which i don`t have for the moment)

JAMAICA

5 dl water to 2 handful of dried hibiscus flowers
9 cl agave syrup
Boil for 5 minutes
Cool for 2 hrs

Strain and bottle and keep in the fridge, it will be fresh for about a week.

My conclusion is that wine cocktails are fun to make and tasty to drink. Cocktails with wine may also attract people who don`t drink wine into appreciating it and vice versa, get winedrinkers into cocktails – a win for both the wine and spirits industries and the drinkers.

I surely will come back in the fall with some winetails based on red wine and fall fruits. I hope though it will will take looong before the fall sets in…i love the summer!

Delicana Cachaca

delicana-artisanal-cachacas

Delicana Cachaça is an artisanal cachaca and pure natural product without chemical additives, produced in Minas Gerais and comes in four different expressions: (silver, gold, premium and cinnamon- orange liqueur/ spiced) They are sold in 1 litre bottles. All artisanal cachaca uses cold-pressed sugarcane.

In front of me I have samples of 3 of the cachacas, the silver, gold and the cinnamon-orange liqueur cachaca. The last one I was especailly curious about as its the first spiced cachaca I try and I was very pleasantly surprised. It has nice and natural cinnamon/orange flavor and I believe this one will be very nice as a cocktail ingredient. The bottle has a nice colorful label and its made from 100% natural ingredients.

The silver cachaca is stored several months in jequitiba barrels and its pleasantly mild and flavorful. The gold cachaca is stored in oak barrels and has a more sturdy flavor with more bite as well. It has a vanilla tone and the color is beautifully golden, this one is also very mild. Both the silver and the gold cachacas are 38% ABV or 76 proof.

The natural cocktail for cachaca is fresh and fruity, like the caipirinhas or batidas. I love these fresh fruity cocktails and inspired by the mouth watering L-Stop caipirinha at Cachacagora I decided to mix up a similar drink with the Delicana cachacas paired with 2 of Bob´s bitters.

The Golden Spiced Caipirinha


1/2 lime, end cut off and split into four equal pieces.

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1 ounce of  Lime Sugar (recipe below)

1.5 oz Delicana Gold cachaca

0.75 oz Delicana spiced orange liqueur-cinnamon cachaca

Top with Ting (or other grapefruit soda)

2 dashes grapefruit bitters (I used Bob´s)

Rim the glass with lime  sugar. I made my lime sugar a bit differently and zested one lime and mixed with fine raw canesugar.

Then cut the ends of 1/2 lime and quarter it, add to glass. Add 1 oz fine raw sugar. Muddle and add cachaca, spiced cachaca and bitters. Add crushed ice, stir. Top with a little Ting and add more crushed ice to fill and garnish with a lime wedge and some sprinkled lime-sugar on top.

This drink is so fresh that my brain zings! and there`s a pleasant cinnamon aftertaste.


After this drink I tried the silver cachaca and made a tiki style batida. I haven`t yet seen any cachaca in a tikidrink so I think its about time.

PineappleTiki Batida

I was first going to make a regular batida and then I got to think about that pineapple I had lying about in the kitchen. It had a top that was small and fun looking, and would make a fun garnish. A pineapple top garnish naturally fits a tiki drink and it was then I got the idea to marry the batida with the tiki and thus it became a tiki style batida.


4-6 pineapple chunks from a just matured (not so sweet) pineapple

1 barspoon limesugar

1 barspoon vanilla-orgeat

sprinkle of fresh lime juice

2.5 oz delicana silver cachaca

0.5 oz sweet condensed milk

Dash Bob`s licorice bitters (or other bitters)

Muddle pineapple chunks, sugar and orgeat in shaker, add bitters, sprinkle of lime juice, sweetmilk and cachaca. Shake and strain ( double strain if needed) into a large glass filled with ice. Pour into a large ice filled glass and garnish with a whole (small) pineapple top.

My overall impression with Delicana cachaca is good,  I especially like the gold and I`m intrigued by the orange liqueur – cinnamon spiced, it will be very fun to mix drinks with.

Sugarcane bar