Sunday, July 6, 2008
Product Review- Agua Luca Cachaca
I'll admit, I don't drink much cachaca. In fact, I tend to think that the majority of cachaca's that I've had are redolent of diesel gasoline, not something I usually want in my cocktails. I'm not even much of a rum man (cachaca being merely a subcategory of rum made from sugarcane and originating in Brazil), although I am looking forward to changing with my upcoming work at Beaker & Flaskwhere my good friend Kevin Ludwig is a huge rum fan. That said, the caipirinha is a great cocktail (and also the national cocktail of Brazil), and while seemingly a simple perparation, maddeningly complex to make correctly. I wouldn't walk into your neighborhood tavern and order a caipirnha tonight, but a good cocktail lounge should have bartenders capable of preparing this classic properly (if they carry cachaca).
As it is, only 1% of Brazil's cachaca production is for export, with the majority of that going to Germany, but the United States is starting to become a growing market for cachaca. In the Mayhew household, there are currently two different brands of cachaca in the house, an all time high. The reason for this is that the nice folks at Heaven Hill were kind enough to send me a sample bottle of Agua Luca Cachaca, along with a couple of other bottles of various liquor. I'm not familiar with Agua Luca (its not available here in Oregon yet), so I was intrigued by the bottle and especially the presentation. It comes in a bottle shaped not unlike that of Voss water , but with a clear glass fading into a blue green base. This is one of the prettiest bottles that I've seen in some time, almost the equivalent of the little black cocktail dress. It definitely hints that this isn't your run of the mill liquor inside. My wife commented that it looks more like a high end cologne bottle than the usual liquor bottle and its clear that a lot of thought and effort went into designing this package.
Upon opening the bottle for the first time, a sweet sugarcane nose became very apparent. Agua Luca has the best nose of any cachaca that I've personally tried, an alluring scent of the tropics and one that just seemed to reach out and ask me to mix it into something special.
Tasting Agua Luca was a revelation. This is a very mixable and versatile liquor, able to add some interesting notes to drinks where, say vodka or rum would be the norm. Even better though, when I tasted Agua Luca, I realized that I was drinking something that could best be described as sexy. I don't generally describe alcohol in these terms, but there was something raw and uninhibited about this cachaca, something primal and something that screamed sex. No wonder they dressed this bottle up. On the shelf, it sits and looks pretty, but once you pour it into a drink, hold on because this is one great liquor. I love mixing it with ginger beer and mint, two very flavorful ingredients and yet Agua Luca holds its own and complements both with its own unique taste. I've definitely got to stock up on this for the home bar, too bad its not in Oregon yet. I've got more drinks coming with this unique and versatile liquor, but I wanted to offer up my first creation with Agua Luca cachaca, the Seu Jorge cocktail named after my favorite Brazilian musician. This is a great drink for a warm July day, in fact, this was the drink of choice in our house on the 4th of July. Summery, spicy and refreshing, you can serve this tall with a little club soda on top to lighten it up if you'd like.
The Seu Jorge Cocktail
2 oz Agua Luca Cachaca (no substiutions please)
4 oz Ginger Beer
10-12 mint leaves muddled gently (peppermint please)
1) In the base of a double rocks glass, gently muddle 10-12 mint leaves to release their oils. Do not overmuddle.
2) add Agua Luca cachaca
3) add ginger beer
4) add ice, stir to incorporate, and garnish with a fresh spanked mint sprig to express its aroma