As part of Portland Cocktail Week 2018, I had the opportunity to sample a bit of Brazilian culture with a focus on exploring cachaça (pronounced ka-SHA-sa). Created in Brazil in the 1530s, cachaça is now the third most consumed spirit in the world. Unlike rum, which is mostly distilled from molasses, cachaça must be distilled from one hundred percent fresh cane juice grown in specific regions in Brazil.
Our first stop was to Industrial Strengh Gym, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym where we learned a few self defense techniques.
Then we headed off to Nossa Familia, a Brazilian coffee roastery based in SE Portland. Here we enjoyed a Brazilian lunch courtesy of Brazilian House Food Truck, and then sat down for the educational portion of our trek.
First, I learned about the sustainable cultivation and distilling practices employed by Novo Fogo. In particular, I was intrigued by their efforts to introduce aging cachaça in American Oak casks, a move that helps preserve more than 300 species of native Brazilian trees. Also, their restoration project helps to reduce their carbon footprint.
While all of their cachaças looked appealing, my eye was drawn to their Tanager expression (42% ABV). This very limited release is aged in oak barrels and arariba (zebrawood), which adds the red color and a distinctive mountain earthiness. This wood is sourced from two zebrawood barrels made from an abandoned shack located on a friend’s property. Also, I got to savor a Novo Fogo cachaça cocktail made using Nossa Familia coffee.
Next, I moved on to LeBlon’s presentation where they went through their sustainable process of producing cachaça by combining traditional approaches with European winemaking techniques. I was drawn to their Cedilla Liqueur de Acia, a rich fruity flavor with spice, berry, and chocolate notes. In addition, I got to sample their Brazilian Pick-Me-Up made with Leblon Reserva Especial, Lime, Vanilla, Cold Brew Coffee from Nossa Familia and All Spice.
My final stop was the Nossa Familia coffee station where I was given a tour of this certified B Corp roastery and then taken through the cupping process used by roasters to evaluate coffee.
So that I can continue this Brazilian experience, I took home A bag of Nossa Familia coffee and cocktail kits from both LeBlon and Nova Fogo to make an Old Fashioned. For a quick drink on the go, I picked up a can of Sparkling Caipirinha, a sparkling cocktail made with Novo Fogo’s silver cachaça.
For more information about this spirit, check out this article in Smithsonian.com.