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!
CaipirinhaAdapted from Fine Cooking
2 tsp sugar
2 oz Cachaca
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.