Hails from: Brazil
Similar to: Rum
The most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil, cachaça is made from fermented sugarcane juice. Known as Brazilian rum, cachaça differs in that it is made from fresh sugarcane juice (fermented and distilled), while rum is most commonly made with molasses.
In fact, when rum started making its way through Europe in the 17th century, Portugal named its form of the drink aguardente, and soon enough, it became known as cachaça. Understandably, the spirit made its way to the New World in Brazil, where 1.3 billion liters are now produced annually. Unlike jenever and mezcal, however, the spirit is not a major import elsewhere, as only one percent of the production is exported out of Brazil.
Similar to rum, cachaça also comes in unaged (white) and aged (golden) versions, while the dark “premium” variety is commonly drunk straight. In Brazil and other parts of the world, cachaça is most commonly used in tropical cocktails. Caipirinha, which is—you guessed it—Brazil’s national cocktail, is made with cachaça, raw sugar and lime, poured over ice in an old-fashioned glass.
(Fun fact: Caipirinha is the diminutive version of the word caipira, which basically means redneck in Portuguese. So next time you’re at a Brazilian bar, ask for a little redneck!)