“Cachaça brings the Summer feeling to any drink” – an Interview + recipe with Michael Stringer

Founder and managing director of Blackleaf Events, Michael Stringer has designed cocktails and event concepts for some of the world’s biggest brands including Stolichnaya, Black Moth Truffle Vodka, SodaStream, Saint Kidd Clothing, Hapsburg absinthe, Cadbury’s, Rekorderlig and many more.   In this Q&A, Stringer will present our readers with many different options to taste and experiment with cachaça, without its usual accompaniments – lime and sugar.

Michael Stringer

Hello Michael, thanks for talking to us!  We assume you don’t start a company like yours without being a cocktail lover? What’s your favourite?

So true, I have loved cocktails ever since I tried my very first which was a Cuba Libre almost 10 years ago! Choosing my favourite all time cocktail is quite a difficult task as there are so many choices but if I was forced I would most likely always revert back to a good Old Fashioned or an Aviation. 

Do you think cachaça is a versatile spirit?

I think cachaca is an excellent product, which can be used in many ways. Obviously people tend to use it for one particular cocktail but there is so much more to this spirit. Being similar to rum, cachaca can be used in almost any rum based cocktail to give a slightly sweeter and fresher variation. We actually have a few cocktails which we switch out the vodka for cachaca too as it adds to the depth of flavour. 

As you allude to, Brazil’s most popular cocktail made with cachaça is the caipirinha.  Could you shine a light on the versatility of cachaça by suggesting a easy-to-make cachaça concoction for the following events:

 A picnic? A picnic is all about having fun in an open space with friends and family. People want them to be simple, taste amazing and be easy to share in the sunshine… We would definitely recommend a pitcher serve. When me and my friends have picnics we always enjoy sangria – here is our twist:

Add 100ml Abelha Silver Cachaca and 100ml elderflower liqueur into a jug filled with cubed ice and pour over 200ml of semi-sweet white wine (Resiling for example), 50ml fresh lime juice and top with soda water – garnish with green fruit slices (kiwi, apple, cucumber, grapes), some sage and thyme sprigs – stir and enjoy.

House party? House parties are a great excuse to get all your friends and family involved in what you do! The most popular cocktail again this year is a Mojito so why not set up a DIY Abelha Mojito station!

Lay out a bowl full of limes, a bag of caster sugar, some bottles of soda water, a few mint plants (or bags), a bucket of crushed ice*, and of course a few bottles of Abelha Cachaca (Silver, Gold or both!). Put out some glassware and an instruction sheet and get your friends making their own twist on the classic Mojito!

*If you don’t have crushed ice just put cubed ice in a tea towel and smash with a rolling pin!

Barbecue? Why not use your BBQ in a way most people don’t normally think of! Pour your Abelha Gold Cachaca into an oven proof dish and place on the cooling rack of your BBQ above your spicy sausages and steaks – leave it there until your food is cooked through and then take out and leave to cool.

The Abelha Cachaca will be smoked with the flavours of your BBQ! Add one brown sugar cube into a rocks glass with a twist of orange peel and a splash of bitters. Add 50ml of your smoked Abelha Gold and stir until the sugar dissolves – add a few ice cubed and enjoy this smoked twist on an Old Fashioned!

Summer wedding? Weddings are all about the celebration and who doesn’t celebrate without a glass of fizz?!  Add 15ml Abelha Silver Cachaca with a few mint leaves, 10ml cloudy apple juice, 10ml sugar syrup and 10ml fresh lime before topping up with your favourite fizz. Stir gently and garnish with an apple slice

Music festival? Thinking about my experiences at festivals the most important drink to have is the one to sort you out first thing in the morning! I would recommend this twist on a Bloody Mary which I call an ‘Organic Mary’:

35ml Abelha Gold Cachaca, 100ml tomato juice, 10ml fresh lemon juice, 5ml fresh lime juice, pinch black pepper, pinch celery salt, pinch sea salt, 2 dashes Tabasco, 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce, pinch ground cumin seeds – the best thing is that you can make up a big bottle of this before even heading to the festival ready to be served each morning with friends.

What classic cocktail would you like to reinvent using cachaça?

There are no limits on this at all! One of my favourite things to do is simply to experiment with flavours. For example I have made a Cosmopolitan with vodka, gin, cachaca, whisky, bourbon, sake, rum, absinthe and tequila just to see what the changes are like.

My advice is simply to give it a go – take your bottle of Abelha and experiment – you might just come across the next world famous cocktail! 

Do you think cachaça is gaining popularity among Mixologists and cocktail lovers in UK? 

I think Cachaca is gaining popularity in the UK among bartenders and guests alike. The fact that Brazil hosted the World Cup last year gave an excuse for bars to buy in Cachaca and it seems like people loved it so much that it could be here to stay.

And… how would you sum up cachaça?

I can’t think of many other spirits, which can bring out the feeling of Summer in almost every drink it is used in! The finer tastes given with a quality cachaca, such as Abelha Organic cachaca, can be really delicate, almost grassy notes, although I love the way that the Abelha Gold really picks up baked fruits and almost coffee flavour from the Garapeira barrels it is aged in! 

And finally, what is your favourite Abelha cocktail that we can share?

 Here is my bespoke cocktail recipe using Abelha Silver – I call it a ‘Silver Blossom’

 35ml Cherry wood smoked Abelha Silver 20ml Morello cherry syrup 25ml fresh lemon juice 1 small egg white 2 dashes cherry bitters

Silver Blossom

Using cherry wood chips and a smoking gun smoke the Abelha cachaca. Add all ingredients into a shaker filled with cubed ice and shake very hard. Double strain into a compete and garnish with a cherry.