Cachaça, also known as pinga, is a sugar cane liquor native to Brazil; in fact it is the drink most associated with that country. It is technically a brandy with a very high alcohol content, but many people assert that it tastes like a cross between rum and tequila, with a charred sugar-molasses twang. Mavens, however, assert that its taste is impossible to compare with that of any other drink.

Originally it produced like moonshine among the poor, but it became progressively upscale. It is available in a few varieties, the most common being white cachaça, frequently used in caipirinha (a traditional, albeit touristy Brazilian drink.) True connoseurs of cachaça will always select the golden variety, however. A good brand is Velho Barreiro, which is ideally imbibed undiluted with a slice of Brazilian lemon.

Cachaça is a sacramental beverage used by several religions similar to Santería and Voudon which are native to Brazil. The most notorious of these religions is Quimbanda, which is replete with demon worship, black magic, grave robbing, debauchery, and blood sacrifice. Virtually all ceremonies of Quimbanda use cachaça as a libation, and in copious amounts. The demon-god Exu, who is the most popular spirit in the pantheon, is known to possess his priests and compel them to drink quantities of cachaça that would be otherwise be quite fatal. Cachaça thus may be considered the only overtly Satanic liquor.

Cachaça is pronounced kah-SHAH-sah or kah-SHAH-shah.

Commentary by Clifford Hartleigh Low (with help from Daniel Pellizzari and others), Saturday, May 16, 1998.