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Cachaca: Bonus Blog Post

My Chronicle story on cachaca was too long (I tend to go on and on and on and on), so here is some extra info that didn't make it into the paper:

Like boutique vodka, cachaca can be purchased in bulk from a major distiller and then aged, diluted or flavored to achieve the desired final taste profile and marketing message.

Sagatiba and Cabana brand cachacas have placed ads in national magazines, though these products have not yet rolled out in the Bay Area. Anheuser-Busch has filed a trademark application on a cachaca named Luzia. Rio-D produces flavored cachacas, and brand Boca Loca is launching flavors in 2008.

Banking on the popularity of the caipirinha, companies have introduced pre-made mixes to save consumers the effort of adding sugar to limes. A Leblon representative said they’re coming out with a caipirinha mix. Stirrings, a brand that produces several instant cocktail mixers, offers a bottled caipirinha mix. Beleza Pura sells a mix with cachaca included so it can be served right out of the refrigerator.

The restaurant Bossa Nova offers nine brands of cachaca, as well as classic, mango, raspberry, passion fruit, kiwi, and pineapple caipirinhas. General Manager Gilberto Duncan says of the new brands, “Agua Luca is really good, it’s one of my favorites. For sipping I like the Ypióca Gold. For mixing I like to use the Leblon.”

Though most restaurants stick to the caipirinha, some new cachaca cocktails are starting to pop up around town. The drink menu at Italian/Brazilian restaurant Mangarosa lists a cosmopolitan made with cachaca instead of vodka, and two flavors of batidas- Brazilian alcoholic milkshakes. Destino offers a drink called The Brazilian with cachaca, Kahlua, and espresso.

Oakland’s À Côté carries “nine or ten” cachacas, and rotates flavored caipirinhas onto the menu when fresh produce like passion fruits are in season. According to Bar Manager Mikey Moreno, they’ve previously served a hot chocolate type drink with cachaca, and a modified cachaca-Fanta drink made with fresh orange juice.

The Latin bar Cantina likely has the largest selection of cachacas in San Francisco with nearly twenty brands, most of them the high-end, and more than half meant for sipping rather than mixing. Currently, they offer three cachaca cocktails- a traditional caipirinha, a blackberry and cabernet caipirinha (that co-owner Duggan McDonnell says is closer to a batida), and a drink called the Milk of Millennia with cachaca, an acai liqueur, mint, ginger, lemon juice, and agave syrup.

McDonnell says he wouldn’t mind placing more modern cachaca-based drinks on the menu, but says he doesn’t think people are familiar enough with cachaca to drop the classic. “Besides,” he says, “to not feature a caipirinha in a Latin bar would be kinda goofy.”

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