Brazil's new drink Pituconha weds cachaca and marijuana roots

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - A new drink in northeast Brazil is shaking up the country's favorite liquor, cachaca, by adding an unusual twist: marijuana roots.

"Pituconha" is a new take on cachaca, the sugar-cane alcohol used in caipirinhas, the famed Brazilian cocktail.

Its name is a play on Pitu, one of the best-known cachaca brands, and "maconha," the Portuguese word for cannabis.

It is the new craze in the city of Cabrobo, where vendors are selling it in bottles strongly reminiscent of Pitu's, newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported on its website Friday.

Pituconha - which costs 30 reals (S$17) a bottle - has the same red crayfish logo as Pitu, though the bottle identifies its contents as "sugar spirits with marijuana roots."

The tongue-in-cheek label on the back of the bottle reads: "Transport ministry warning: It's not the mule in the road that's dangerous, it's the ass behind the wheel."

An official in the Cabrobo mayor's office told the newspaper local residents had recently begun collecting plant roots left over after police operations to eradicate the region's widespread marijuana plantations.

Cachaca producers reportedly pay 100 reals for a 30-kilogram bag of the roots.

Police have not yet determined whether the new drink is legal, said Folha de Sao Paulo. But it said an analysis it commissioned had found only "minute" traces of THC, the active compound in marijuana.

Cabrobo is located in Pernambuco state about 500 kilometers west of Recife, the state capital and one of 12 host cities for the 2014 World Cup, which opens on June 12.

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