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New York Press – “Brazilian Spirit”

Ernest Barteldes

One Man’s Quest to Bring Good Cachaça to the Masses

Cachaça is the name of Brazil’s national drink and can be found in every single boteco (bar) in the country for as little as 25 cents a shot. Though it’s commonly referred to as a “Brazilian rum,” there are in fact several differences between it and the Caribbean spirit. While rum’s distilled from molasses (which yields a higher sugar content), cachaça (pronounced cashasa) uses sugar cane juice, a distinction that can be immediately noticed since most cachaças smell like cane, while rum has a more sugary scent.

Several companies in the country mass-produce a cheaply-sold product that’s aimed at the masses; some of it is labeled as “aged” but, in fact, has caramel added to give it color (causing worse hangovers, as one producer once admitted to me). A lot of that has wound up on the shelves of New York bars as caipirinhas (cachaça, crushed lime, sugar and ice) popularity has grown.

There are, however, other smaller companies who dedicate themselves to making a higher quality product, although until recently they were hard to procure in the city. “Brazil is capable of highquality spirits,” says Olie Berlic, a former New York sommelier who took it upon himself to introduce premium cachaças to the American market after a five-year tour-de-force that began when Berlic traveled to Brazil in search of wine.

“I couldn’t find any wine producers who had a good portfolio,” he explains. He then set his sights on the distilled product, and set out to find companies who produced high-quality cachaça.

“I tasted over 800 brands and tried to find the players: I was convinced that a higher quality product had a place in the market.” He finally found a producer in São Paulo who had been mapping the sugar cane plantations for 20 years. To bring it to the U.S. market, he wanted to create an original name that promoted “the sophistication and spontaneity of Brazil,” Berlic says.

His Brazilian-born wife came up with the name Beleza Pura® (Pure Beauty), which refers to the purity of the product and also to the beauty of the country. “I identified regional elements and created something fresh and clean without any additives-rich in the palate, with a long finish and overall purity.”

Beleza Pura® is available at Astor Place Wine & Spirts, Beekman Liquors and a handful of other liquor stores in the boroughs ( has a full list) where he often initiates his growing clientele in the use of the distinctive juice. Watching Berlic conduct a tasting is an educational experience: He doesn’t only pour the cachaças, he also instructs the audience about each region where the liquid is produced, the aging process and mixing suggestions. It’s clear that he’s in love with what he does. More recently, he introduced a 108-proof Brazilian absinthe in the U.S. market, “working with the producer to give it a younger appeal.”

Berlic also focuses on giving back to the country that gave him his livelihood, and his company has partnered with the Dreams Can Be Foundation, a U.S. not-for-profit organization that works with several organizations in Brazil to benefit needy children. Berlic’s company donates “to help the children to have a better opportunity.”


By Elad Zui - SushiSamba Park Ave, NY

  • 1 ½ oz Beleza Pura® Super Premium Cachaça
  • ½ oz vanilla vodka
  • Splash pineapple juice
  • 1oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

Mix ingredients in a shaker w/ ice and shake. Strain into a sugar rimmed martini glass.

“MIH Group Holiday Party & ‘The Triple Threat DVD’ Screening”

December 12, 2006 9:00 pm to December 13, 2006 12:00 am

JAY-Z VIP Room in 40/40 Club
6 West 25th Street Btwn Bdwy and 6th Ave.
New York

MIH GROUP Inc. Host Annual Holiday Party in VIP JAY-Z Room @ THE 40/40 CLUB NYC
You are cordially invited to join this annual holiday party; sponsored, in part, by Excalibur Enterprises that will be offering the signature Beleza Pura® Ready-Mixed Caipirinha.MIH GROUP INC. will also screen THE TRIPLE THREAT DVD featuring the industrious emcee, singer, songwriter, musician, & producer touted by critics as ” sicker than your average and definitely one to watch “-Source Magazine-THE CHOIR BOY.

“Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture”

December 4, 2006

Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian CultureThe Brazilian Ambassador’s Residence
New York

New York Brazilians and Brazilophiles Gather to Celebrate the Successful Art Exhibition “Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture”
“The Consul General of Brazil José Alfredo Graça Lima and his wife Marisa rolled out the red carpet at the Brazilian Ambassador’s Residence to welcome the friends of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and celebrate their wildly successful show Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture.”The exhibit opened last month when Mayor Bloomberg cut the ribbon on the museum’s new $19 million building. “The Bronx Museum of the Arts has put the “grand” back in the “Grand Concourse.” he said.

“Tropicália, curated by Carlos Basualdo and Lydia Yee, is the first comprehensive exhibition exploring one of the most significant chapters in the world’s modern cultural history. It was the late 1960s, when daring experiments in Brazilian art, music, film, architecture and theater converged under the leadership of well known pop stars Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.The Tropicália moment produced a counterculture that has influenced generations of artists up to the present day including David Byrne.

“The reception complete with Brazilian hors d’oeuvres and cocktails was organized by Michèle Gerber Klein and Alina Slonim. The drinks made with caçacha (described by natives as a wild mix of tequila and rum made from the heart of the sugar cane plant) was provided by Beleza Brazil, represented by Olie and Marcia Berlic.”
– From “”

Photos from the Party

“Last Party 2006 - Brazilian Carnival @ Freight NYC”

December 16, 2006 11:00 pm to December 17, 2006 4:00 am

Freight CarnivalFreight NYC (Frank’s)
410 W. 16th Street (btwn 9th & 10th Avenues)
New York

“BRAZILIAN CARNIVAL”This Saturday, December 16th, Sociedad Latina NY announces its last party of 2006 — and invites you to celebrate a night full of energy and contagious happiness with a “Brazilian Carnival” featuring a Samba Show, Brazilian music and Beleza Pura. (This will be a joint Event with the Catalan Institute of America.)

DJ Dtime will be playing the best music from all around the world. Be ready to dance all night long, bring comfortable shoes!

Samba Show by “Michelle & Guisselda”


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