The caipirinha (pronounced kai-purr-REEN-yah) is the national drink of Brazil. It's the most popular cocktail in the South American country, and everyone has their own way of making it. Today, it is a hit worldwide and should be on the essential drink list of every home and pro bartender.
The basic caipirinha recipe is incredibly simple and requires just three ingredients. It's made in a similar way to the old-fashioned and mojito: Muddle fruit and sugar, then top it with a shot of liquor. The liquor of choice here is cachaça, the Brazillian take on rum, distilled from fresh sugarcane juice rather than molasses.
With the sweetened lime and cachaça mix, you will have one of the most refreshing cocktails you can mix up. It's the perfect introduction for anyone new to cachaça and an excellent way to explore different brands. Plus, it can serve as inspiration for many other tasty drinks.
- 1/2 lime
- 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar (to taste)
- 2 ounces cachaça
- Garnish: lime wheel
Gather the ingredients.
Cut half of a lime into small wedges.
Place the lime and sugar into an old-fashioned glass and muddle well.
Top the drink with cachaça, stir well.
Fill the glass with small ice cubes or cracked ice, stir again, and garnish with a lime wheel. Serve and enjoy.
- Superfine sugar is a better choice for cocktails because the finer crystals dissolve more easily. This is particularly useful in a cocktail like a caipirinha, which doesn't have a lot of liquid or hard-core mixing.
- Don't worry about hunting down a specialty sugar. It's very easy to transform ordinary kitchen sugar into superfine sugar with a food processor or blender.
- Use the recommended range of sugar to customize the cocktail's sweetness to your taste and the cachaça you're pouring. Some cachaças are sweeter than others and quite a few are aged, so there are times when less sugar creates a better drink.
- If you happen to have simple syrup on hand, try swapping out the superfine sugar with 3/4 ounce of simple syrup. It's not as traditional but will still provide a delightful drink.
Let these variations serve as inspiration. See what new fruits, herbs, and other ingredients are at the produce market, and don't be afraid to accent it with a liqueur for extra flavor. With a bottle of cachaça and a muddler, the possibilities are endless. Have fun and see where your taste buds take you.
- The caipirini is a shaken version that serves the drink martini-style.
- Transform the lime-cachaça mix into a summer treat by making ice pops.
- Toss a few berries into the glass for a raspberry caipirinha or go with a combination like blueberries with lemon and lime wedges.
- For a spiced citrus twist, mix up a kumquat-ginger caipirinha.
- In the homecoming caipirinha, autumn flavors abound with apple, cinnamon, and sage.
- A spiced pear caipirini is also ideal for colder months with its mix of pear nectar, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
How Strong Is the Caipirinha?
Much like other liquor-only muddled cocktails, there is not much in the caipirinha to dilute the liquor. Factoring in a little lime juice and a slight amount of ice dilution, its alcohol content falls around 30 percent ABV (60 proof). It's always going to be slightly lower than the cachaça's bottling strength, so this is not a weak drink.