CACHAÇA, PINGA or AGUARDENTE? Let’s find out what is the correct name?

10 March 2013

The word CACHAÇA is a source of controversy.

Its history dates back to the time of slavery when blacks worked on sugar production and sugar cane plantation.

To produce the sugar cane, slaves crushed the cane. The juice obtained was boiled until a pasty mass(molasses) was formed and placed into molds to cool. When cold, the  molasses was used to sweeten the drinks.

It happens that sometimes the boiled juice soured and not turned into paste.  Not to be  physically punished, the slaves hid the syrup to which they called “cagaça”. On the next day when they returned to continue the boiling process, the syrup was found fermented.

To hide their mistake, slaves  mixed the old sour molasses with the new one  and the two were led to the fire to boil. The result was that the old  ‘sour’ molasses  turned into alcohol that evaporated during boiling and formed  gutters on the roof. These leaks were the ‘cachaça’ already formed that dripped constantly. Hence the name ‘PINGA’. When the drips hit the slave’s backs, marked by the switch cane and physical punishment , it  burned a lot and therefore the slaves  named these dripping  as “AGUARDENTE’ (burning water). As they worked, slaves also noticed that when the cachaça dripped on their faces and  ran into their mouths, they felt happy, docile, they felt cured of depression caused by nostalgia for their homeland and they want to dance. And whenever they wanted to stay happy they let the leaks drip into their mouths.

Also as the flesh of swine they ate was hard, they used the soured juice to soften it. During colonial Brazil the pigs were known as ‘cachaços’. Hence the name “CACHAÇA”.

Cachaça is a product typically national but has lived in hiding, being consumed mainly by the poor and, therefore, its image was associated with a poor quality product but has become much appreciated  and during colonial period was consumed at royal banquets mixed with  other ingredients such as ginger.

Nowadays, the cachaça is distilled and filtered and became a respected  and appreciated beverage that is served at political meetings and international events of all kinds throughout the world.


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