Cachaca - pronounced more like "cash-asa" - is a popular Brazilian liqueur, with over 290 million gallons produced every year. Made from fresh sugarcane, cachaca creates a flavorful cocktail.
My father spent his teenage years in Brazil, so I always keep a bottle of Cachaca in the house in case he wants to make the famous caipirinha cocktail when he visits.
I know the purists out there will want to stone me, but we usually don't have many real limes in the house for long :) My boyfriend uses them at a prodigious rate for his sodas. So that leaves me with lime juice for making my caipirinha cocktails. It's surely not as good as with a real lime, but at least it works. You use 2 shots of cachaca, about 2 tablespoons of line juice, then 2 teaspoons of sugar. You add ice and mix well.
I do make sure we have real limes around when my Dad visits though :)
Cachaca tastes sort of like rum, that would be the closest comparison. However, to my taste buds, cachaca is lighter and more gentle. Where I cannot drink regular rum straight because of the strong alcohol flavors, I enjoy the caipirinha which is really just cachaca with some lime flavoring to it.
It's interesting to note that sugar cane, the basic ingredient of cachaca, is not native to Brazil. This was brought in with the Portuguese invaders / settlers back in the 1500s. Once sugar cane was planted, people tried to ferment it, and the rest was history.
It's important to note that cachaca is NOT rum. Rum is made from molasses. Cachaca is made from sugar cane. So they are similar, but they are not the same thing.
Where some types of alcohol, like Champagne, have a legally protected status and can only be created in their defined home area, Cachaca does not currently have that protection. As cachaca has increased in popularity, other locations have begun to sell generally inferior imitation products. Be sure to look for the "Made in Brazil" mark on your cachaca label!