We’ve got spirit
And we’re taking it to the streets for Cachaça independence
Thu, Sep 17, 2009 (midnight)
Sunday, September 13, 5:30 p.m.
We the People, in order to form a perfect bar, seek to establish Cachaça as “Cachaça, Brazil’s Noble Spirit.”
We formally and necessarily declare that Cachaça is independent of, and therefore not, “Brazilian Rum.”
We make this declaration with no prejudice or malice towards Rum, nor to any other of our brethren spirits, such as Vodka, Tequila, or Gin …
So begins the Cachaça Declaration of Independence as printed on little fliers and a big cardboard document for all to sign.
Brazil declared Cachaça (kah-SHA-suh) its national spirit in 1532, and the Caipirinha its national cocktail late last year. Yet here we are, in the midst of Bourbon Heritage Month, celebrating the uniqueness of America’s native spirit (since 1964) while suppressing the recognition of Brazil’s national pride and the third most consumed distilled spirit on Earth. Bourbon is a type of whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon, unless it’s been made to spec and within the U.S. Neither can Scotch be made outside of Scotland nor Champagne (capital C) outside of the Champagne region of France.
After years of discrimination by the American government (the U.S. doesn’t recognize the word Cachaça, so all product must also read “Brazilian rum”), the Cachaça producers at Leblon have had enough. It’s a clear case of racial profiling! The spirit that graced your Caipirinha all summer is not the same as the light rum that spiked your mojitos—it’s Cachaça, and just as a horse isn’t a zebra, it’s different.
True, like agricole rums, Cachaça is made from freshly pressed sugarcane juice. But more often, industriel rum is made from molasses, a byproduct of the sugar-making process. And like rum, Cachaça can be unaged or aged in widely varying kinds of barrels, achieving aromas of balsam, cinnamon and oak. Try that with your cheap plonk rum …
The designation that Cachaça must be made within Brazil from fresh juice plucks it from the generic sugarcane spirit family tree and sets it squarely on its own branch.
This Sunday I took to the Strip along with Tobin Ellis and John Hogan of BarMagic, Emilio Tiburcio of ProgressiveBar and many more to spread the word: “Ho-ho! Ho-hum! Ca-cha-ça is not a rum!” Ellis took the helm as our barker: “You don’t have to be able to pronounce it to enjoy/support/drink it!” his calls varied.
Stefanie Gatsinaris of Leblon Cachaça kept the Caipirinhas flowing as we marched from Harrah’s Carnaval Court to Caesars’ Mojitos to the Mirage’s Rhumbar.
I’ve never had the opportunity to march for anything, not even band. I’ve never carried a banner
or burned my bra (intentionally). Sure, I’ve signed petitions, but I’ve never wielded them. I sat in once, but it was for Dave Matthews tickets. I protested … when George took the Huntridge off the Downtown Cocktail Room menu. And I only run when chased. Still, at the embarkation of my 30s, it has occurred to me to get on board for something I believe in.
“So let me get this straight,” an Australian tourist said last Saturday when I told her about the march. “In Las Vegas, booze is a cause?!” Yes, Cassandra, yes.
Maybe it was the misleading signs at Tales of the Cocktail that I vaguely recall saying something about “Free Cachaça.”
At the website legalizecachaca.com, a digital petition shows the signatures of the John Hancocks of our time and industry: Tony Abou-Ganim, Steve Olson, Charlotte Voisey and Dale DeGroff.
We therefore hold these truths to be self-evident; that Cachaça is Brazil’s Noble Spirit, endowed by its creator with certain inalienable characteristics, that among these are a fruity nose, fresh taste and a long, clean finish.
Beneath this, I signed my name. Twice.