Cocktail of the Month

Caipirinha

 


The first time I saw a caipirinha (pronounced Kai-Pee-Reen-Ya) on a cocktail menu, I assumed it was a typo. Not only had I never seen a caipirinha at a bar, I’d certainly never heard of the base spirit that makes it so exceptional, cachaca. A big advocate of trying new things, I jumped at the opportunity to try this new libation that I wrongfully assumed was a signature twist on a margarita. One sip and I realized that not only was this nothing like a margarita, it was one of the most refreshing and unique cocktails I’d never tasted, making it the perfect Cocktail of the Month for the month of May.

The star of the show in a caipirinha is the cachaca (pronounced Ka-Sha-Suh). Originating in Brazil, this spirit comes from fermented sugar cane juice, with a taste that is very often compared to tequila. I wasn’t sure how to differentiate it from tequila at first, but there is a certain je ne sais quoi about this spirit that makes it so much more complex and unique than anything else and virtually impossible to lump with any other liquor.

Caipirinha image via Shutterstock
Cachaca frequently stars in the caipirinha, which is quite simple in execution, but still manages to awe with each sip. A combination of lime, sugar and cachaca makes for a light and sweet drink that pairs perfectly with an outdoor lawn chair or a day on the beach, making it ideal for this time of year. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting cachaca before, I recommend a try-before-you-buy situation. There are some big cachaca players out there and some that are starting to come out of the woodwork, so if you’re a novice cachaca drinker, your best bet is to see which one works for you in this new cocktail venture. All you need now is an ice cold caipirinha and a sunny outdoor spot; your work here is done. Cheers!

Caipirinha

Adapted from Fine Cooking

1 lime
2 tsp sugar
2 oz Cachaca
Crushed ice

Slice the lime into wedges, and put four wedges into a rocks glass. Add in the sugar and muddle together until thoroughly smashed. Fill the glass with crushed ice and pour cachaca over the top. Stir well and garnish with a lime wedge.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: grittyk
    523956 137

    I like to cube a lime into at least 12 to 15 chunks rather than just use 4 twists. Then put the sugar on and muddle thoroughly. Really make the lime, sugar and cachasa one with the drink.

    May 16, 2013 at 4:00 PM


  • Snooth User: wastrox
    1270562 25

    It's not a caipirinha without cachaca. Leblon is over priced and just plain nasty tasting in my opinion. I use Pitu. Would love to try others from Brazil since apparently it is Braxil's version of tequila. Very different taste than tequila. A great cocktail when you only have time for just one, maybe on the way out the door to dinner because it packs quite the punch. I put one half lime (quartered) in a rocks glass, muddle with a heaping teaspoon of sugar, fill the rocks glass with ice , then with the cacha to top. Pour into shaker, shake and then pour back in glass. Wouldn't recommend getting too fruity with berries but might consider muddling fresh mint with lime.

    May 16, 2013 at 8:04 PM


  • Snooth User: Qorki
    123171 7

    Cachaca is made from sugar cane, and is more like rum than tequila. I agree Leblon is nasty. I like Fazenda Mae de Ouro and find it mild and delicious.

    May 17, 2013 at 2:50 AM


  • Snooth User: wastrox
    1270562 25

    Thanks for the recommendation Qorki. Hopefully I'll be able to find the Fazenda.

    May 17, 2013 at 3:12 AM


  • Pitu is not a good cachaça....there are many other with similar price but a good taste. Anyway, I have prepared caipinha at home, I drink it in a bar too but I never saw blackberries on caipirinha. It is strange for me.

    May 17, 2013 at 7:49 PM


  • Snooth User: INOX
    1288416 9

    Good quality cachaça is very important to enjoy a tasty caipirinha. Some distilleries have been working hard to improve their product in recent years.
    One small, artisanal group in the southern Brazil created a very fine, smooth (no-burn) cachaça called INOX that has been turning heads in the trade.
    Soon it will start showing up on shelves in the US. Ask for it and check out tasting events around the country starting in September.
    http://www.INOXcachaca.com

    May 17, 2013 at 9:37 PM


  • Hello...i've now seen this printed twice: that Cachaça is Brazil's version of tequila. It is basically Brazil's version of Rum...not tequila. It is only similar in that it is each country's most notable spirit.

    Also, I've usually seen the caipirinha made with brownish (cane) sugar...but I'm sure this varies a lot. And please!....don't put mint in this drink...it's not meant to be there.

    May 21, 2013 at 11:39 PM


  • This is one of my Favorite drinks! It is Brazilain Rum, never put mint in there, then you are just trying to mkae a Mojito.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:05 PM


  • Snooth User: winedoc7
    1290333 27

    I have had plenty of caipirinha in Brazil, usually made with a darkish cachaca, usually served with some mint. I do not find it to be a "light" drink, if done correctly, it can be brutual.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:14 PM


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