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Fight for your right to drink cachaca -- last-minute notice

September 18, 2009 |  2:08 pm

Cachaca If you're a fan of the delightful Brazilian drink known as the caipirinha (muddled lime, sugar and cachaca -- the national spirit of Brazil), then get yourself down to Asia de Cuba at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood by 4 p.m. There you'll find a bunch of fanatical cachaca drinkers who, at the behest of Leblon-brand cachaca, will be marching to "legalize cachaca."

Keep in mind that this is a bit hyperbolic; cachaca is definitely legal in the States. (I for one drink it openly, and all the time, at restaurants and at home. I may even be drinking it here at my desk right now. Shhhh.) It's just that for some crazy reason the U.S. is the only country in the world -- claims Leblon -- that requires cachaca to be categorized as "Brazilian rum." They argue that like tequila, Champagne and cognac, cachaca possesses its very own character, culture and historical significance.

I second that emotion. If you've ever had a sip of cachaca, you know what I mean. It's definitely not rum. But since it's distilled from fermented sugar cane, it gets the rum rap. Its flavor, however, is wildly different. If you buried a shot glass covered in cheesecloth under a field of sugar cane and let rainwater filter through the earth into your glass and then magically turned the liquid you captured into a fiery liquor, you'd come close to knowing what cachaca tastes like. Or you could just buy a bottle at your local house of spirits.

The march to "legalize" cachaca begins today at 4 p.m. at 8440 W. Sunset Blvd., at the Mondrian.

-- Jessica Gelt

Illustration: Sarah Cline / For The Times