As all good cachaçeiros should know, the 13th September this year marks the 352nd anniversary of the Portuguese Crown’s legalization of the production and sale of Brazil’s national spirit. This marked the culmination of the 1660 “Cachaca Revolution”, a rebellion by the Brazilian cachaça distillers, whose product had been banned up until that point in favour of bagaçeiro, the Portuguese equivalent of grappa. While bagaceiro was the preferred tipple of the elite, cachaça, made from sugar cane residues, was strictly slave liquor. How things have changed since then! In the past few years cachaça has undergone something of an international renaissance as bartenders around the world have recognized the potential of this distinctly flavoured spirit, finally stealing some of the limelight from its “spiritual” brother rum.
So in order for you to celebrate the day in style, here’s a rundown of five of our favourite places in Rio & Sao Paulo where you can knock back some pinga, either neat or in its best known incarnation, Brazil’s infamous caipirinha:
1. Academia de Cachaça – As the name would suggest, this is where people serious about their cachaça go and was the first house to homage the drink. The house specials are the Caipirinha Academica, a take on the Brazilian classic which gives it a twist of lemon and honey and the Brasil em cubos, which has fruity lime, lemon and passion fruit ice blocks which melt and blend with the Cristalina cachaça base, creating an ever changing delightful drink. Their list of aged and rare cachaças, best enjoyed neat, is also second to none.
2. Veloso Bar – This busy Sao Paulo establishment is famous for its caipirinhas and it has over fifteen varieties of the cocktail. If you’re feeling adventurous, try bold combinations like tangerine and chilli or pineapple with mint, or alternatively, chill out and knock back one of the fruity seasonal specialities recommended by the obliging barmen.
3. Aprazível – Famed for its modern take on traditional Brazilian fare, Aprazivel also has an excellent bar as well as its own variety of cachaça from the owner’s fazenda and drunk straight from the oak barrels. We recommend getting there early and having a caipirinha muddled with mango and ginger just in time to enjoy the amazing sunset views of the city.
4. SubAstor – This is the original Sao Paulo ‘speakeasy’, hidden away in the basement of the Astor. Nestle yourself into one of their luxuriant red leather armchairs and try the Caipi-Mate off of a brand new menu tailored by Italian mixologist, Fabio La Pietra. This herbal take on a caipirinha leaves you with the fresh lingering herbal taste of yerba mate, the famously invigorating tea grown only in northern Argentina and Southern Brazil.
5. Garapa Doida – Not exactly a bar, this carioca institution has one of the best selections of vintage cachaças you can buy in the city. Sip your cachaça neat or on the rocks, while the knowledgeable staff happily offer expert advice on all things related to cachaça, including how to make a perfect caipirinha (shaken or stirred!).
Academia da Cachaça – R. Conde Bernadotte, 26, Leblon, Rio de Janeiro Phone +55 21 2529-2680
Veloso Bar – R. Conceição Veloso, 56, Vila Mariana, São Paulo Phone +55 11 5572-0254
Aprazível – R. Aprazivel, 62, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro Phone +55 21 2508-9174
SubAstor – R. Delfina, 163, São Paulo Phone +55 11 3815-1364
Garapa Doida – R. Carlos Grois, 234, Leblon, Rio de Janeiro Phone +55 21 2274-8186