I almost always have a bottle of cachaça stored in my liquor cabinet, but not for drinking purposes. Instead, I use this spirit in my cooking.
In particular, I love making beef fillet with cachaça. After adding the meat to a pan with sauce, I add a bit of cachaça as it enhances the flavor of the dish.
However, finding cachaça is sometimes tricky. That’s why I refer to substitutes that are at arms width.
The best substitute for cachaça is Clairin. Other great substitutes for cocktails include vodka, Cauim, rum, and sake. If you’re looking for non-alcoholic substitutes, try Caleño, ginger ale, sparkling cream soda with mixed berries, or fruits & limes. You can use red wine, rum extract, or brandy for cooking and baking substitutes.
In this article, we will look into the different substitutions of cachaça based on their needed applications.
We will also dive into how you can make Caipirinha at home. In addition, we will address some commonly asked questions pertaining to cachaça.
- Substitutes for Cachaça
- Best Substitutes for Cooking & Baking
- About Cachaça
- Do You Know
- Easy to Make Caipirinha Recipe
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Substitutes for Cachaça
1. Clairin – Best Substitute for Cocktails
Clairin, or Kleren, is another alcoholic drink made from sugarcane. Many sources believe it is by far the best cachaça substitute, especially in cocktails.
Clairin is distilled spirit produced in Haiti, and it undergoes the same distillation process as rum.
It can be made with varying types of sugarcanes that aren’t chemically sprayed over in the fields. Clairin is not fermented with yeast, and it has no filtration process.
Some clairin’s have a grassy, fruity taste with hints of black pepper. For its substitution of cachaça, you can use them interchangeably in cocktails with a 1:1 ratio. 28ml of Clairin’s has about 81.51 calories.
Alcoholic drinkers always have vodka in their liquor cabinets. Its constant availability makes it a great substitute for cachaça, especially in cocktails.
Vodka is a distilled alcoholic beverage with a wide range of varieties, such as Swedish and Russian. It is made by the distillation of liquid from fermented cereal grains.
The taste of vodka varies between types, but they generally have a sort of spice, citrus, cream, and pepper taste. Often high-end vodkas have fruit, honey, or maple sap that serve well as the base.
Vodka can substitute cachaça in cocktails, especially in Caipirinha. Once you make this switch, the drink is no longer called Caipirinha. Instead, it is called Caipiroska.
Caipiroska has differing properties than Caipirinha as it has different base alcohol.
According to Liquor.com, you can make it using 2 ounces of vodka, 1 cut lime, 1-ounce simple syrup, and 4 other lime quarters for garnish. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare.
These are the directions:
- Put the simple syrup and the 1 cut lime in a shaker
- Muddle to extract the juice
- Fill a rocks glass with ice
- Dump the ice into the shaker
- Add vodka
- Shake until well-chilled
- Pour the drink into a chilled glass, and garnish
This substitution often consists of the vodka and cachaça being used interchangeably in a 1:1 ratio. 1 fl oz (28g) of vodka has 64.7 kcal.
Another good substitute for cachaça in cocktails is Cauim, yet another native Brazilian drink. It is made in Panama and South America.
Cauim is an alcoholic beverage ,or beer, made by the fermentation of maize or manioc. Sometimes it is flavored with fruits or fruity juices.
Many say they like using Cauim as a substitute for cachaça in cocktails. So, you can try it.
Some use Cauim in a 1:1 ratio with cachaça, while others might adjust it based on their preferences. In addition, Cauim consists of about 11 calories per 1oz.
Cachaça is often referred to as Brazilian rum, so it’s not surprising that we keep mentioning it in the substitutions.
However, a wide variety of rum, other than Clairin, could be good substitutions for cachaça in cocktails.
Rum is made by the fermentation of sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. It is a clear liquid and can be aged in oak barrels.
Most rums are made in American and Caribbean countries, but they are also produced in various other countries such as the Philippines and India.
Though many consider cachaça a style of rum, they have significant differences. The sweetness of cachaça is much less than rum.
Rum is made from the byproduct of boiled sugarcane, molasses. On the other hand, cachaça is produced from the fermentation and distillation of fresh sugarcane juice.
If you want to substitute cachaça, use light rum in your cocktail. However, keep in mind that the flavor of cachaça is unique, and it won’t be the perfect substitution. Rum gives a similar, though less earthy taste.
Once you use this substitution in the making of Caipirinha, you get Caipiríssima. For this substitution, the rum might taste sweeter, so you will need to check the flavor and adjust as needed. 1 fl oz (28g) of rum has 64.7 kcal.
Another alcoholic beverage that can substitute cachaça well in cocktails is sake. It can even provide another spin on Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha.
Sake is an alcoholic drink made by the fermentation of rice. It is often added to cocktails or juice mixes, but it can also be warmed before serving.
The variations of sake are great, and the one you choose for the substitution is up to you and your flavor preference.
Skim through the ingredients to better understand what notes will be added instead of cachaça.
When you replace cachaça with sake in a Caipirinha, you get a drink called Sakerinha. This substitution results in an equally delicious and bright drink.
For one serving, you’ll probably want 3 fl oz of sake instead of the cachaça.
6. Caleño – Best Non-Alcoholic Substitute
Caleño is one of the best non-alcoholic substitutes for cachaça. It is ideal for making a zero-alcohol version of Caipirinha.
Caleño is a non-alcoholic spirit with a tropical flair. It has a sweet lemon and pineapple essence flavor with a hint of bitterness.
For 2 oz cachaça, you can substitute with 2 oz Caleño. It is great for making non-alcoholic caipirinha. Per 100ml of Caleño, it has 39kcal.
7. Ginger Ale
As we mentioned earlier, ginger ale goes well with cachaça. However, if you want a non-alcoholic drink, you’re going to have to ignore the cachaça and only use the ginger ale.
A carbonated soft drink with spice ginger flavors, ginger ale is often consumed on its own or used as a mixer mainly in spirit-based drinks.
Instead of cachaça being the basis of your Caipirinha, ginger ale can take its place. For this substitution, you will have to follow the recipe for proportions.
According to Waitrose, to make 4 servings of virgin Caipirinha, you’ll need 1 tablespoon white sugar, 300ml ginger ale, ice, a couple of mint leaves, and 1 lime and 1 orange, both roughly chopped. You then:
- Into a bowl, add the lime, lemon, orange, sugar, and half of the mint leaves.
- Using a rolling pin, crush them for a couple of minutes
- Leave them for 10 mins
- Strain the juice into a small glass with ice
- Pour in the ginger ale
- Add some leaves of mint
Nutritional Information of ginger ale (serving of 1 fl oz, 30.5 g):
- Calories: 10.4kcal
- Total Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 2.14mg
- Total Carbohydrate: 2.67g
- Dietary Fiber: 0g
- Total Sugars: 2.72g
- Protein: 0g
8. Sparkling Cream Soda and Mixed Berries
Sparkling cream soda with mixed berries makes another great non-alcoholic substitute for cachaça. It serves as a yummy zero-alcohol version of Caipirinha.
Sparkling cream soda with mixed berries gives a delicious virgin mixed berry Caipirinha.
The fruity and fresh taste is perfect for warm days. The sparkling cream soda is there as a way to replace the alcohol.
According to J Cooking Odyssey, a great recipe for this non-alcoholic drink includes 300g of mixed berries, 4 tablespoons of mint leaves, 4 cut limes, 8 tablespoons of soft brown sugar, 600ml of cream soda, and ice. You’ll need to:
- Put most, but not all, berries into tall glasses
- Add in the sugar, lime, and mint
- Muddle the fruit and lime with a rolling pin
- Fill glass with ice
- Add in the cream soda
- Stir to combine
- Garnish with the remaining berries and mint leaves
- Calories: 116.96kcal
- Total Fat: 0.25g
- Sodium: 11.7mg
- Total Carbohydrate: 30.82g
- Dietary Fiber: 2.6g
- Total Sugars: 25.8g
- Protein: 0.7g
9. Other Fruits and Limes
Adding fruits and limes can serve is another variation to making non-alcoholic Caipirinha. It is a good substitute for cachaça.
This substitute in a Caipirinha drink results in a drink called Caiprifruta. You’ll need to remove the cachaça to avoid the alcohol and add in fruits, like oranges or strawberries, and limes and lemons. Some people even choose to add sparkling water.
Best Substitutes for Cooking & Baking
Cachaça is underrated in the cooking and baking compartment. However, the amount of food you can improve with cachaça is significant.
Adding aged cachaça to whole ham gives it a smoky taste. This spirit is often used in a dish called Camarao Dom Pedro as it harnesses its fruitiness. Cachaça is even used to marinate shrimps or to top some pasta dishes.
Cachaça is incorporated in many recipes, such as grilled chicken, cachaça cake, flavored tapioca pudding, and vanilla ice cream with cachaça flambeed banana.
10. Red Wine
If you cook, you’ve probably come across red wine in your recipe. It has similar cooking purposes to cachaça, so it serves as a good substitute.
Red wines are often incorporated in savory dishes. Wine has three main advantages in the kitchen; it can be used as a marinade ingredient, cooking liquid, and flavoring in a dish. In addition, the wine will intensify and enhance the taste and smell of food.
Red wines add acidity to the dish, which gives it the ability to fortify the dish’s other flavors and tenderize the meat.
That’s why it could be an excellent substitute for cachaça, especially when the purpose of cachaça is to marinate.
For this substitution, it’s best to identify the recipe you are attempting and wine accordingly.
Nutritional Information of red wine (serving size of 1 fl. Oz (29.4g):
- Calories: 25kcal
- Total Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 1.18mg
- Total Carbohydrate: 0.7g
- Dietary Fiber: 0g
- Total Sugars: 0.18g
- Protein: 0.02g
11. Rum Extract
Rum extract is used in many baking and cooking recipes. In addition, it can serve as a good cachaça substitute.
Rum extract is made from rum and has a concentrated flavor. The alcohol content is not high, but you can opt for alcohol-free versions if you’d like.
This extract can give a unique taste to desserts and dishes and is often used in brownies, lemons cakes, puddings, etc.
Rum extract is a good substitute for cachaça, particularly in cakes and puddings. For this substitution, you’ll need to add 1/3 the amount of cachaça, if not less.
Nutritional Information of rum extract, Mccormick (serving size of 1 tsp (4.2g):
- Calories: 15kcal
- Total Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Total Carbohydrate: 2g
- Dietary Fiber: 0g
- Total Sugars: <1g
- Protein: 0g
Brandy is a common ingredient in the kitchen. It is also another suitable substitute for cachaça in cooking and baking.
Brandy is also a distilled spirit made through the fermentation of fruit or starchy vegetables.
It works wonderfully with seafood, chicken, turkey, pork, etc. In addition, it is used to flambé desserts like bananas foster.
So, if you were looking to flambé your desserts or make a savory dish, you can use brandy instead of cachaça.
You can use the liquids in equal amounts. 1 fl oz (28g) of brandy has 64.7 kcal.
Cachaça is a versatile Brazilian distilled spirit made by fermenting sugarcane juice with yeast.
It is exclusively made in Brazil. Like any other distillers, those who make cachaça can try different distillation processes, sugar canes, and barrel aging methods to bring out distinct flavor nuances in the spirit.
Do You Know
Aged cachaças have some widely unique flavors. This spirit may be aged in French oak barrels, American oak barrels, or other indigenous wood barrels. Some cachaças are not aged and are bottled directly after the distillation process.
Cachaça often has a 40–50% alcohol by volume (ABV), or 80-100 proof. Its flavor dramatically varies, but it generally has a grassy, vegetal, and slightly sweet taste with fruity notes.
The flavor of cachaça depends on the mode of production and aging. Small unaged batches of cachaça have herbaceous tastes, while those of aged cachaça have notes of fruitiness or coffee with hints of the barrels.
The Types of Cachaças
The types of cachaças include branca and amarela. Branca, meaning “white” in Portuguese, can also be labeled as silver, classic, or traditional.
They can either be unaged, left in stainless steel vats, or kept in wood that has no effect on the color of the spirit for less than a year.
Amarela, meaning yellow, is often labeled as gold or aged. You can also find premium, extra premium, and special reserve classifications of cachaça.
Cachaça has many uses. It can be served as a straight drink, on the rocks, in cocktails such as Caipirinha, or shots. In addition, it can be added in cooking or baking for flavor.
Depending on where you live, the availability of cachaça differs. Lately, cachaça has been getting easier to find despite not being widely distributed.
Your best bet is to look for it online or at well-stocked liquor stores with wide import selections.
As a nutritionist, I like to stay aware of the nutrients and calories in my food and drinks. Cachaça alone has 64 calories per 28ml (0.94 oz), Carbs 0g, Fat 0g, Protein 0g.
- 4 oz. cachaça
- 1 lime
- 4 teaspoons of sugar
- Slice the lime into cubes
- Muddle them in a glass with the sugar
- Add ice cubes
- Add in the cachaça
Substitutes for Cocktails
The beauty behind cachaça is that it can be drank in any way you’d like. You can sip it straight or serve it on the rocks.
But the true fame of cachaça comes from its ability to enhance several tropical drinks.
The most popular of them is a cocktail called Caipirinha. Cachaça pairs well with lime, ginger ale, and orange blossom.
Several substitutes replace cachaça in cocktails. With every alternative, you get a specific variation of a delicious drink.
You don’t need alcohol to have fun! You can have the cachaça experience without the cachaça if you use suitable non-alcoholic substitutes.
These substitutes are great for when you want a Caipirinha or a shot of cachaça but don’t want the alcohol portion of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Is Cachaça Different from Rum?
Though many refer to cachaça as Brazilian rum, it is not exactly the same as rum. The main difference comes from the process of how they’re made.
Cachaça is made from freshly pressed sugar cane, while rum is made of molasses, which is basically cooked from sugarcane juice.
In addition to the difference in taste, cachaça can only be produced in Brazil, while rum can be made in many countries.
Is Cachaça Like Tequila?
Cachaça is not tequila; however, many people compare the two and say that cachaça has distinctive vegetal notes that resemble tequila.
So, at first, you might smell tequila. But, once you taste it, you’ll be able to identify the differences.
Cachaça starts sweet, then turns to a slightly smoky and vegetal taste that’s a bit distinct from the flavor of tequila.
However, it does have the extra something that makes tequila distinct from other liquors.
Like Cachaça, tequila has a range of tastes depending on its type. Often, it is said to have fruity, sweet, and earthy flavors and could have notes of vanilla, caramel, honey, citrus, oak, etc.
Aged tequila is often richer and smoother than its other varieties. However, some describe the texture of Cachaça as slightly syrupy.
What To Mix Cachaça With?
Cachaça seems to go well with many ingredients. Usually, most cachaça drinks mix different fruits and sugar.
There are plenty of other beverages that use cachaça as the main component, so it is mixed with different ingredients.
Cachaça is a versatile Brazilian distilled spirit drank alone or in cocktails and dishes. In general, this alcoholic drink has a grassy, vegetal, and slightly sweet taste with fruity notes.
There are several substitutes for cachaça. The best substitute for cachaça is Clairin. You can also use vodka, Cauim, rum, or sake in cocktails.
For non-alcoholic substitutes, you can try using Caleño, ginger ale, fruits and limes, or sparkling cream soda with mixed berries.
Finally, you can use red wine, rum extract, or brandy for cooking and baking substitutes.
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