Today there will be a memorial luncheon for Luisa’s family and a few friends. Tomorrow I head back to Rio and upon arriving on Thursday we will drive to Teresôpolis and on Friday we go with friends for the weekend to visit a small town called Tiradentes (named for Joaquim José da Silva Xavier or Tiradentes the ‘tooth puller’).
In July Marcos and Silvia, visiting from Houston, called and ask us to dinner BUT before dinner they wanted to go to Leblon and visit his favorite liquor store. More specifically a Cachaça shop. Cachaça is considered the national drink of Brasil.
Made from fermented sugarcane water it was first made and drank by the slaves of northern and central Brasil. This first, very crude drink, has a similar taste and kick as Tennessee’s white lightening. During the mid 60s more sophisticated processes and ageing in casks made of Brazilian woods developed some pretty delicious Cachaças. There was a time when the local Italian wine makers tried to get the government to ban this drink – fearing competition for their grappas. (there is no competition, after nearly 100 years of growing vines the Brazilian wines are still not competitive internationally) The government declined this pressure and Cachaça was on it way to the top as a mixer for Caipirinha and as a straight up after dinner drink.
This little shop, tucked away in a side alley off Rua Carlos Góes, offers an opportunity to taste test different Cachaças. The owners well versed in the history of Cachaça, the different fermentation processes and the types of woods used during aging made this a fun experience (not to downplay the immediate warming and mood alteration effect of small sips Cachaça on a cold rainy day in RIO).
The shop carries a good selection of moderate to very expensive Cachaças (aged 3 years in imported oak barrels) and has a hidden shelf of antique (?) bottles, some history and drink mixing books and a small amount of glasses and other accessories. We brought home** two bottles to try with some good company and a special home cooked meal.
** they do not accept Master Card – so cash or visa is needed.