Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Rum Collective Meets at Naga Lounge

The Rum Collective's 2nd Meeting
Naga Lounge
When presented with a special opportunity, one should take advantage of it. Having the owner of a spirit, such as Novo Fogo Organic Cachaça, guest lecture at your meeting provides a unique opportunity indeed. Did you say cachaça? Well that isn't rum, or is it? Cachaça isn't rum technically...and one could argue this simply because it is cachaça. It differs in that it originates in Brazil and we learn that culturally, most Brazilians wouldn't consider cachaça to be rum or rum to be cachaça. However, cachaça's relationship to rum might be best described as a distant cousin originating from the same plant, sugar cane, and around a similar timeframe in history, albeit different locations. Unlike most rum, cachaça is not distilled from molasses, a by-product of sugar manufacturing. Rather, cachaças are distilled from sugar cane juice. Now, to clarify, not all rums are distilled from molasses. Cachaça is most simliar to Rhum Agricole produced in the French speaking Caribbean and also several other rums produced from sugar cane juice only. However, many aspects of their production, such as type(s) of sugar cane, terrior, temporal processes of sugar cane juice extraction to fermentation, yeasts employed, distillation end points and respective laws regarding aging and additives are different. These differences provide an explanation of why rum and cachaça's taste profiles differ significantly.

Brazilian Negroni
Like rum, the selection of cachaças are limited here and are unkown to many outside of Brazil. Regardless, we learn it is consumed in heroic volumes, ranking third place among all spirits worldwide! Anyone up for a trip to land of the Amazon rainforest and ubiquitous cachaças? Dragos Axinte, owner of Novo Fogo, gave a hand tailored informative discussion full of insight into how his cachaça is hand crafted, enjoyed and what makes it unique. The lecture is really more of a conversation as Dragos discusses Morretes, the rainforest town where Novo Fogo is produced. We sip our first cocktail and listen to the story of Novo Fogo. Tasty!

Brazilian Negroni
1.25oz. Novo Fogo Silver infused with pineapple and Thai basil
1oz. Cardamaro
Basil leaf garnish

Dragos' relaxed informal style sets a tone that brings forth questions, answers and more information for everyone to learn from. The tasting ensues beginning with the Novo Fogo Silver. It is aged in steel tanks for over one year. The variety of aromas of this clear spirit is surpringly impressive. Those who attended had the unique opportunity to be the first to try a Novo Fogo product not available anywhere else. An unreleased sample bottle of a Novo Fogo, aged for one year in American oak barrels, was brought back from Brazil recently and has made its way here. Oh yeah!

Novo Fogo Silver, Unreleased 1 yr Aged Sample, Gold
(Left to Right)
This unreleased sample is tasted and responses from those present are overwhelmingly positive. At first sip, full flavor representative of pot still distillation is appreciated. Its texture reveals more substance than the Silver and finishes with a nice smooth oily coating in the mouth. Comparative tastings between cachaças or any spirit is useful. When done between multiple aged products within a brand, such as Novo Fogo, it brings forth an informative lesson in what time aging in oak barrels imparts into the flavor and body.

Brazilian Old Fashioned
Finally the Novo Fogo Gold reveals the maturity of another year aged, complex and fun to sip. And sip an Old Fashioned we do. Delicious! Is it the Novo Fogo Gold? Evan Martin's skills behind the bar? Some spirits just don't work in this classic cocktail, but this is not one of them.

Brazilian Old Fashioned
2oz. Novo Fogo Gold
0.5oz. Ginger-Cane Syrup
3-4 dashes housemade Brazilian Coffee Bitters
Maraschino cherry & orange peel

Spirits Display at Naga Lounge
Display materials and books were passed around the audience highlighting, visually, the points of discussion. The craftsmanship and attention to detail that Novo Fogo employs from their choice of premium sugar cane juice to their bottle design culminates in a cachaça that speaks for itself. Those who were present at this meeting received a Novo Fogo gift pack containing two mini Novo Fogo cachaças and a dark wooden muddler as the meeting ended and afterparty began! Naga Lounge reportedly maintains the best rum selection in the state. Their award winning bartender, Evan Martin, has no problem assisting you in selecting a personalized rum or cachaça-based cocktail to please your palate. Yes please!

The Rum Collectivce would like to thank Dragos Axinte, Novo Fogo Cachaça and the staff at Naga Lounge for an oustanding meeting. Brazilliante!!

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