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