Learning to Fly

A fine cachaça lands Stateside

Brazil is our lodestar for all things tropical and summery.

So to ready ourselves for the warmer months ahead, we've been dosing with cachaça, the national spirit of Brazil–and specifically, Avuá Cachaça ($35 for 750 ml), a new artisanal version that just launched in the States.

Part of the sugarcane distillate family like rum, cachaça is made from freshly crushed cane juice. In many cases, the cane is sourced from multiple farms across the country, making it hard to control the quality of the cane and, therefore, the taste of the spirit.

Avuá, on the other hand, approaches production like a natural winery. The master distiller doubles as sugarcane farmer. She grows the plants on her family's property in Carmo (about four hours north of Rio de Janeiro), and harvests using a plow drawn by two bulls.

Avuá's resulting bottlings, Prata and Amburana, offer a gorgeous vantage point into Brazilian terroir. Prata has delicate scents of lychee and lemongrass, but is smooth and dry to the taste, finishing with a wisp of anise. Amburana is buttery with a faint yeast flavor, like a drinkable croissant.

Both spirits have already captured the attention of New York's bartending elite; at Experimental Cocktail Co., head bartender Anthony Granzo uses the cachaça in a Julep-like concoction called the Boa Sorte (see the recipe).