The Caipirinha is considered the national cocktail of Brazil, and for good reason. It’s made from their most popular distilled spirit – a very strong rum called Cachaça – and while I’ve never had the pleasure of actually drinking one in Brazil, I’m told that’s the perfect climate for enjoying this wonderful cocktail.
The true Caipirinha recipe is very simple: Cachaça, limes and sugar. Cachaça is distilled from straight cane juice, but it’s more tart and sharp than its cousin, rum. This drink is all about refreshing notes: it’s tart, but not too tart, and it wakes up your taste buds as it cools you down.
You could fancy the Caipirinha up, but the charm of this cocktail is in the simplicity. At heart, it’s just a lovely variation on a rum and lime cocktail like the Daiquiri. It’s ideal for sipping along on a warm evening as you wonder why we bother with all the complications of modern living.
Brazilian dishes are the perfect food complement to this drink. If you’ve never had Brazilian food, or don’t have it available in your area, it’s time to start making it at home. It’s an absolutely delicious cuisine. Try a Galinhada Mineira, which is essentially a saffron rice with chicken and vegetables, but with the addition of Brazilian ingredients that makes it unlike anything else.
- 2 ounces Cachaça
- 1-2 juicy limes (key limes are particularly good)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (some prefer superfine sugar or simple syrup)
- Cut the lime(s) into quarters or eighths
- Remove the core and any seeds and then muddle them with the sugar in the mixing glass from a shaker.
- Add crushed ice to the mixing glass, then add the Cachaça, then shake it all together.
- Pour everything, including the ice and the lime sections, into an old-fashioned glass. (The limes will continue to release juice, so you definitely want to leave them in.)
Note: some people recommend brown sugar. It doesn’t look so pretty, but it tastes great. Also, some actually people recommend using the cheaper Cachaças rather than the high end stuff.