The Caipirinha is one of the most (if not the most) popular cocktails in Brazil. The recipe dates back around 100 years, when it was reputed to have medicinal properties (as were many spirited drinks!). The drink is made with cachaça, lime and sugar and is very simple to make. Though the flavor of the finished drink is different, it is often compared to a mojito because the method of making the two cocktails is similar.
A caipirinha starts by muddling (aka smashing) fresh limes and sugar together in a glass or cocktail shaker, similar to the way a mojito is made. It is essential to use fresh lime in this recipe because both the pulp of the fruit and the peel bring a lot of flavor to the drink. The amount of sugar in the cocktail is adjustible, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend cutting back too much. The sugar not only helps to draw the essential lime oils out of the lime peel when you muddle the fruit, it gives the drink a refreshing sweetness and keeps it from feeling too boozy. Speaking of booze, cachaça is added to the lime and sugar mix, then the cocktail is shaken with ice to blend everything together.
The finished drink is bright and refreshing, with a burst of flavor from the fresh lime. This is a drink that should – and does – go down easy on a hot day, whether you are in Rio, or sitting in your own back yard!
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
1 tbsp sugar (or more, to taste)
2 oz cachaça
In a cocktail shaker, combine lime wedges and sugar. Muddle thoroughly, until lime and sugar are well-combined. Add cachaça. Fill up a rocks glass (the glass you intend to serve the drink in) completely with ice and transfer that ice to the shaker. Shake vigorously, then pour everything out into your serving glass. Top with a lime wedge.