Beija Cachaca Review
We have to tell you - it's easy to get jaded when you're in the liquor review business. We're sure you wouldn't believe us, especially since we've received gallons on gallons of free hooch to sample and write about, but it can get pretty ho hum to see ANOTHER bottle of vodka or whatever show up on the doorstep. But we had an experience a few days ago that helped us shake off the cynicism and see things in a new light. It's something we should do more often anyway...we actually met the folks behind some of the liquor we planned to review.
The scene was set at the Green Street Grill (this visit renewed our love affair with the place, and we can't remember why we stopped going in the first place), and the booze was Beija, a "virgin cane rum" that's been getting some buzz in Boston. The meeting was with Kevin and Steve, the brains behind the operation, and they'd done some pretty hard work to break us from our natural homing instinct of "drink near bed." So how did the evening unfold, and more to the point, how did we like Beija?
We're going to handle this a bit differently than our typical reviews, because there's more of a story to tell than "we mixed drinks in the office and sampled them until we were tipsy." We had a great conversation with Kevin and Steve, and we really liked to feel the energy they had about their product. Yeah, they're well versed at pimping the stuff, but their rap doesn't sound forced and they seem to truly believe in their product and what they're doing. There's something to be said for that kind of passion, and we liked being exposed to it - especially since we've never had the nuts (or the credit rating) to max out our credit cards and go for broke like they did.
The evening started off well - we arrived at Green Street early and ordered a Beija caipirinha because...well, that's what you do when you're drinking cachaca, right? Then Kevin and Steve arrived, and proceeded to blow our minds by having Misty, the bartender on duty at the Green Street Grill and quite possibly the most confident and accomplished mixologist (if that word is still in vogue) we've stumbled across in recent memory, "whip up" a few drinks for us. We were duly impressed.
They first had us try the Beija on its own (more on that below), and then Misty started the onslaught of mixed drinks. We had cachaca in combinations we'd have never thought of - mixing the sugar cane liquor with things like absinthe for one drink and champagne for another, suitably blew our minds. The Beija-and-absinthe combination actually blew away one of our longstanding favorites, the Sazerac, which is saying something - though that might have something to do with the sure hand at the bar, we can't say. And now onto the review proper.
The Look: During our conversation with Kevin and Steve, they repeatedly mentioned they're looking to be the Grey Goose of cachaca. That's evident in their bottle, a tall, slender, frosted job with a green symbol on the front in the form of a stylized woman.
The Smell: We've had run-ins with cachaca before that would burn your nose hair, with a scent reminiscent only of someone putting sugar in your gas tank. Beija falls on a much more refined end of the spectrum, with nearly no nose while chilled and a light, sugary aspect at room temperature.
The Taste: Beija is classified by the US government as a virgin cane rum, and we think that fits. This is an Americanized cachaca, one that's aimed more at Boston happy hours (if such things existed) than Brazil after hours, and it's got a refined, restrained taste that defines it as such. It's got that rum-meets-tequila kick we've seen before, but it's throttled back and the tropical, herbal flavors come to the front.
This is the kind of booze that accentuates the ingredients in a cocktail rather than stepping on them, and strikes us as even more versatile than a lot of the more common rums we've tried. It seems like a valid substitute for rum, tequila, or even vodka in your favorite recipes, without having to be afraid of making "cachaca face" after your first sip.
The Verdict: It's probably come across that we liked Beija, and for different reasons than we typically like cachaca. We think of it as falling firmly into the rum category, and as such we think it's worth picking up as a versatile mixer for high end drinks. Don't be afraid of the slightly higher price tag; we think it's worth it. And if you're in the Boston area, we HIGHLY recommend you head to Central Square to have Misty whip up a few cocktails for you...you know, to test drive it before you buy.
aka "Virgin Cane Rum" imported from Brazil
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Typical Price: About $30 for 750ML
Beija. The world's first Virgin Cane rum. Fusing rich Brazilian heritage with modern elegance, Beija represents the quintessential embodiment of cachaça.
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at February 13, 2008 8:45 PM