Considered Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha (pronounced kai-pee-reen-ya) is a simple, yet potent concoction best enjoyed when you have plenty of time and don’t need to drive. The flavor deceptively masks the alcohol, making it seem as though you are downing a refreshingly sweet and innocuous lemonade (until you stand up, that is). I served these as a cocktail on Thanksgiving and they were refreshing and tasty (did I mention they were strong?). Here is how you make them:
- 2-3 key limes (sliced or wedged)
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar (fine sugar melts better)
- 3-5 oz. Cachaça (pronounced ka-shaa-suh)
Muddle the limes and sugar together in a tumbler. You can use practically anything as a muddler. A short, wooden stick, like a piece of broom handle or a pestle will work fine. Add the Cachaça and ice and drink up!
A couple of notes:
- Don’t use lemons. Its a completely different taste.
- Make sure you work the limes well to extract as much juice as possible, but also to release the oils in the rind. An important part of the flavor comes from the rind, so don’t short-cut it by using just lime juice.
- Don’t use simple syrup. A traditional Caipirinha uses sugar.
- Cachaça is a Brazilian rum made from cane sugar. Most rum is made from molasses and will impart a different taste altogether. Use only Cachaça. I used the only brand available to me, Pitú.
As you can see, this is a very simple drink (only three ingredients). You will need to adjust the lime and the sugar to your liking, but Brazilians normally like theirs pretty sweet (probably to mask the inferior taste of a cheap Cachaça. Be aware, and you should make your guests aware, that the drink is deceptively sweet and extremely potent. It is very easy to drink a lot of these without noticing the effects until its too late (think about it: you are drinking about 3-5 shots of alcohol in a single glass). Have fun, but be careful.