Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Novo Fogo Cachaça

Last week I was visited by the Minister of Rum himself, Ed Hamilton. Ed brought along Dragos Axinte, the proprietor of Novo Fogo, which is a new cachaça currently launching distribution in the Chicago area. Dragos gave us two bottles: one silver cachaça (unaged sugar cane spirit), and another of bourbon barrel-aged cachaça.

Drinking them neat, the silver had definite citrus notes and a little of that sugar cane funk, while still being really smooth. But the bourbon barrel-aged cachaça was really special--it had great bourbon qualities and a strong vanilla finish. Two wonderful spirits.

I made Ed and Dragos two cocktails, one for each variety they brought in. The first was a variation on my Long Faced Dove cocktail (tequila, grapefruit, lime juice, Campari, agave syrup, club soda), where I used cachaça in the place of tequila. The second was a riff on the Phil Ward's Coin Toss cocktail: cachaça, sweet vermouth, yellow chartreuse, angostura bitters. Both drinks were hits.

I appreciate that it's made in small batches. The citrusy notes and cane sugar funk are apparent in a way that is often lost with mass produced cachaça. The bourbon barrel-aged product was so cool... I had heard of this cocktail made in Sao Paolo called
Rabo de Galo (literally translated as 'tail of the cock'), a variation on the Manhattan cocktail made with cachaça instead of whiskey. I have tried to make it with other cachaças, but it was never very interesting. The influence of the bourbon barrel on the aged cachaça gave the spirit a nice woody characteristic made it work nicely in the cocktail.

Besides a great product, the company is also really ecologically responsible. The bottles are made from recycled glass collected in the nearby city of Curitiba, Brazil, and Novo Fogo runs a
zero waste facility. All of that, and the cachaça still comes in at a good price point. It will definitely be on my back bar, and I hope to have it on my menu at the Whistler soon.

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