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Cachaça by Armazem Vieira

Submitted by on February 1, 2010 – 8:50 pmNo Comment

(Photo by Susan McKee)

(Photo by Susan McKee)

By Susan McKee
The Road Trips Foodie

There’s no drink more Brazilian than cachaça (close to 400 million gallons are produced annually). Like rum, it’s distilled from sugar cane, but it has a distinct taste and is muddled into a distinctly Brazilian cocktail: caipirinha.

Cachaça connoisseurs prefer to have it aged. The older the cachaça, the more expensive (think: 8 years, minimum; 16 years or more is even better). Cachaça distilled from sugar cane juice (garapa) is considered superior to rum, which is made as a byproduct of producing sugar (melaço in Portuguese, which translates to molasses in English).

When this Road Trips Foodie was wandering the southern Brazilian province of Santa Catarina, The New York Times published a feature on cachaça, noting that one of the handful of really good labels – Armazem Vieira — was produced in Santa Catarina’s capital city, Florianòpolis. Of course, I set my sights on checking it out – all in the name of research for you, my dedicated readers, of course!

(Photo by Susan McKee)

(Photo by Susan McKee)

Armazem Vieira translates from the Portuguese as “old warehouse”, and, indeed, the brand is headquartered in an historic marine warehouse (pictured) on the island of Santa Catarina (the island gave the province its name) that was built in 1840. Here, at Rua Aldo Alves, 15, Florianòpolis, cachaça made only from garapa is barreled and bottled – but there’s also a bar for atmospheric imbibing (the whole building was restored in 1985 to its Art Nouveau glory). It’s on the way to the airport, so there’s no excuse for missing it. Just remember to put that bottle you bought safely into your suitcase before checking in for your flight (mine? I bought some Armazen Vieira Rubi, aged 8 years; enclosed in bubblewrap, stuffed in a zip-top plastic bag and nestled into my clothing, it made the trip north intact).

The classic caipirinha is made from 2 parts cachaça, 1 part lime juice and one teaspoon sugar, mixed and poured over ice. A common Brazilian variation, called the Batida (“shaken”), substitutes another fruit juice for the lime, most commonly either passion fruit or coconut milk.

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