A rustic classic made using lime, Cachaça and sugar.
Brazil’s national drink may at first seem simple, but the devil’s in the detail when it comes to getting it right.
Key to that, is understanding it properly….
One of the things that makes the Caipirinha so great is just how similar it is to so many iconic cocktails. Calling it a Brazilian Mojito isn’t far off, while saying it’s like a Daiquiri served on the rocks is equally close. Is it just simple grog made with Cachaça? Sort of. It’s all of these things and none of them – the Caipirinha stands alone and is imbibed in restaurants, bars, and many households throughout Brazil.
What’s surprising given its popularity, is how long it took to become known outside of the country. Thankfully, this is changing and with the continuously increasing availability of cachaça brands of outside Brazil, the drink has managed to become a mainstay of many bars and home cocktail enthusiasts alike.
The perfect Caipirinha is all about finding a balance between the sweetness of the sugar and citrus tartness, and how that combines with the base spirit.
1 Handful Lime wedges
3 Teaspoons Fine sugar
50 ml Cachaça
Add the lime wedges and sugar into a beaker and muddle. Add in the Cachaça and finish muddling.
Once muddled, transfer to a rocks glass and fill with ice. Give it a quick stir. Top the rest of the glass with ice.
The type of sugar matters. If you are making it as they do in Brazil, use white caster sugar. We prefer ours with golden, but irrespective of your choice, opt for powder or caster over granulated.
Don’t make it in a shaker and then shake / strain. That’s not a Caipirinha. Build it all in a glass if you are drinking it from something sturdy enough, or alternatively, do as we have (photographed) and muddle the ingredients in aa beaker and then pour the lot into the rocks glass.
Crushed ice is now common, but the authentic “style” is to use cubed ice.
AN ABRIDGED, INEBRIATED HISTORY:
Although the exact origin of the drink is unknown, it’s thought to be a story of evolution rather than the singular creation of a bartender at a specific point in time.
According to historians, the caipirinha was most likely to have been invented by farmers in the region State of São Paulo during the 19th century.
At the very beginning it was likely that the drink either began as a medicinal recipe made with lemon, garlic, and honey. Over time, the garlic and honey were removed, and the drink progressed from medicinal uses to more recreational ones, thus the addition of sugar (to balance flavour) and ice.
Just in case you were wondering… What is Cachaça?
Cachaça is a Brazilian spirit, that for all essence and purposes (paraphrasing here), is the same as a Rhum Agricole. Cachaça is made from fermented sugar cane juices (whereas rum is made from sugar cane byproducts, like molasses). It’s defined by it’s bold, often vegetal notes and a peppery spice to finish.