Caipirinha 4.7.18

-Branden Kummer

So, here's a funny story. I first encountered this simple drink ages ago at a Texas de Brazil at Station Square in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I met my mother and Pete Hanowich for dinner. I was a fairly boring person when it comes to spirits and was going to go with a Jack and  Coke or something "generic" like that. Pete insisted on a Caipirinha and ordered one for me. After happily wolfing it down, Pete smirked and said, "It's an acquired taste," Without skipping a beat, I shot back, "I acquired it pretty F&%#ing Fast." I've been making them ever since.
1 Lime
2 TBSP Simple Syrup
4 oz. Cachaca (Preferably LeBlon)
Ice Cubes
Cut the lime into 6 pieces. Muddle them in the glass. Add Simple Syrup, Ice Cubes and Cachaca into a shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour into an Old-Fashioned Glass and garnish with lime. (Optional, I generally don't). 
Caipirinhas are the national drink of Brazil. For centuries, the drink was considered something only poor people in Brazil had. Now however, it is seen as being to brazil what Vodka is to Russia. The main ingredient here is the Cachaca (Ka-Sa-Sha). A type of Rum distilled from sugarcane juice instead of molasses. The largest brand in Brazil is known in the US as "Cachaca 51." Personally, I prefer LeBlon. I've tried several other brands and they're just not as smooth. 
The Brazilian government has tried to reserve the name Cachaca for Brazilian imports only, similar to how Champagne outside of Champagne, France is called "Sparkling Wine.: Thus far, it has been unsuccessful with the WTO (World Trade Organization), and the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The US TTB has their own skin in the game, technically, as they classify Cacahaca as Rum and it is taxed as such. Meanwhile, other manufacturers in, for instance, Puerto Rico can use the name Cachaca and sell ini the United States at a much lower cost to themselves. There are thousands of brands. It's an industry that employs 40,000 people. 
On that note, when the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics came around, the entire state system here in Pennsylvania was run dry of Cachaca. Not just LeBlon, but every brand they sell. You cannot substitute anything Cachaca in the Caipirinha. The man at one of the state stores here said I was probably one of the only people who actually bought the stuff before the Olympics. Now the entire county was dry!
So, if the olympics ever return to Brazil in your lifetime, stock up on this stuff for just such an occasion. OR actually, any event will do, for example, it's Monday. Enjoy!
Jill Kummer