Bartenders: “Legalize Cachaça Now!”July 29, 2009
New Orleans, LA – Top Bartenders from around the world signed and officially ratified the Cachaça Declaration of Independence at the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Top Bartenders were unanimous in proclaiming Cachaça as “Cachaça,” and not Brazilian Rum, as is currently required by U.S. law on Cachaça in the United States.
A copy of the Declaration, which was signed by over 1,000 bartenders, will be sent to the U.S. Government’s TTB, the government agency responsible for spirits labeling. Signors included Top Bartenders such as Tony Abou-Ganim, Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, Jim Meehan, Naren Young, Jacob Briars, Jackson Cannon, Junior Merino, Alex Miranda, Somer Perez, John Hogan, Jay Law, Patricia Richards, Pablo Moix, Bridget Albert, Tony Conigliaro, Charlotte Voisey, Simon Ford, Ed Hamilton, Robert Burr, Tad Carducci, Jeffery Morganthaler, Luciula Martins, Tobin Ellis, John Lermayer, Aisha Sharpe, Willy Shine, Michael Martensen, Drew Levinson and Debbie Peak. The original document will be sent to the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans for display, as suggested by San Francisco bartender H. Joseph Ehrmann during an after-hours cocktail party. “It’s where it should be – it’s now part of cocktail history,” said Mr. Ehrmann.
Cachaça, the Noble Brazilian spirit, is the third most consumed spirit in the world. Cachaça can only be made from fresh sugar cane juice, not molasses like most rums, and can only be produced in Brazil according to Brazilian normative laws. The United States is one of the few countries that does not recognize Cachaça as “Cachaça,” requiring Cachaça packaging in the United States to be labeled as “Brazilian Rum.”
“Cachaça was created in Brazil in the 1530’s, one hundred years before Rum,” said Australian bartender and journalist Naren Young, currently tending bar at Bobo in New York City. “It’s time to make Cachaça the legally-recognized descriptor, and bag Brazilian Rum from the U.S. label. It’s bogus,” said Young.
“Brazilians don’t make Rum – they make Cachaça!” said Las Vegas mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. “It’s their proud national spirit, and putting Brazilian Rum on the label is like putting Mexican Whiskey on a Tequila bottle. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Mr. Abou-Ganim.
As part of the signing ceremonies, bartenders took to the streets in front of the Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street in New Orleans, chanting “Legalize Cachaça, Legalize Cachaça” in concert with a local street jazz band. Traffic was stopped, and the Cachaça Declaration of Independence was read aloud by Mr. Gerard Schweitzer. Local law enforcement arrived, asking for the street to be cleared. The New Orleans police also signed the Declaration, and a street celebration ensued. “It seems like a good cause,” the police officer in charge was reported as saying.
Organizers plan to continue their campaign to ‘Legalize Cachaça’ until the U.S. Government approves the recognition of Cachaça as its own legal description.
“It’s confusing to Americans, and rather insulting to Brazilians,” said Steve Luttmann from Leblon Cachaça. “It’s like being named Jennifer, and having everyone call you Mary. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.”
Jennifer was not available for comment.
To learn more and to sign the Declaration, visit www.legalizecachaca.com.