So I missed virtually all of the Leblon Cachaça-sponsored Thursday Drink Night this week. Sue me, I had tickets to some obscure musician named Harry Connick Jr. What, you think I’m missing that?
Anyway, I felt a bit left out, and rather than try to come up with my own, pathetically late drink, or go out shopping for ingredients I don’t have to try everyone else’s recipes, I opted to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time: Let the three bottles of Cachaça I have on hand duke it out in a no-holds-barred Caipirinha battle!
Those of you who know what a Caipirinha is, please skip this pre-fight paragraph. The Caipirinha is a drink made with Cachaça, the national spirit of Brazil. The chief difference between Cacahça and Rum is that Cachaça is make with cane juice, as opposed to molasses. The most famous cocktail using Cachça is the Caipirinha, which is a lowball cocktail that is refreshing and bracing.
- 2 oz. Cachaça
- 1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
- 1 lime, cut into eighths
Muddle lime and simple syrup in an Old-Fashioned glass. Add Cachaça and fill glass with ice to the rim. Stir and serve.
If you don’t have a muddler (and you should!), the folks at Leblon will happily send you a reasonably nice one for free. It’s plastic, but I like that because it’s easier to clean than wood, and it is heavy enough to be useful. A word of warning, do not copy the muddling technique of the hot chick on the ordering page.
In the other corner, also weighing in at 750 ml, and costing $15, the first bottle of Cachaca Doug ever tasted, Cachaca 61 Rum!
And in the the other other corner, weighing in coincidentally at 750ml, and costing $29, the most active brand in all the cocktailosphere, Leblon Cachaca!
Actually, there’s only going to be one round for now. Just Caipirinhas.
Only one round?
What, I’m not pretty enough for you as a ring card girl?
What? No! You’re a perfectly smokin’… um… sock! Seriously!
Cabana comes out first, swishing distractingly. We take a cautious sip, with an eye out for our spouses. Oh! That had to hurt! There is a definite edge to this stuff, and not a good one. The Cabana has an oily, metallic bite that really only hits you when you take a big, full swig. Little sips, and you just sense… something… wrong.
Pow! Down goes Cabana!
61 moves out to the fore in workmanlike fashion. This makes a darn good, basic cocktail. I bought this bottle some time back after seeing a Caipirinha recipe in a book and liking the picture. The drink it produces is tart, tasty, but has bit of a rough edge. This is not the nasty edge of the Cabana, just rough.
Finally, Leblon slides into the center to mix things up, nearly stumbling over Cabana’s languidly recumbent form. This Caipirinha is a bit smoother than the 61. It has a kick, and it punches up the lime and lime oil flavors like the other Cachaças, but it is much less raw. There is a kind of ruggedness to Cachaça that Leblon mostly hides. It’s there, but hidden—like a nicely tailored suit on a body-builder.
And nooooow the winner!
By decision, the winner, and Pegu Blog Caipirinha Champion is…
by decision because the 61 is nice enough itself, and much cheaper. I suspect it is a much more
authentic Cachaça than Leblon, in the sense that most Brazilians probably drink stuff that is closer to 61 than Leblon. But that would make Crystal Palace more authentic than Belvedere, which kinda limits the whole value of
authenticity. The Leblon is the smoothest of the bunch, still richly flavorful, and reasonably, though not cheaply, priced. It mixes up one hell of a good Caipirinha. If you haven’t tried Cachaça at all, I’d suggest the first bottle you try be Leblon. If you can find the 61, and want to experiment, I’d buy a bottle of it second. See if you like it rough!
Oh, and the Cabana? Please buy a bottle of it too, if you have the budget. We all ought to support companies who run marketing campaigns like theirs….