The secret of true caipirinha
The Olympic Games in Rio are the perfect opportunity to enjoy the most refreshing of caipirinhas, Brazil’s signature cocktail. The name means “little hillbilly”, because it was apparently created by peasants (caipira refers to “someone from the countryside” in Portuguese).
The recipe is simple – four ingredients only – but believe me, making a good caipirinha is an art. Here are some tips from two of my Brazilian friends, Souza and Gerson, who are experts on this topic. You can trust them.
Ingredients for one serving
- 50 ml of Brazilian cachaça (sugar cane rum)
- 2 tsp. white sugar
- 1 lime, cut into quarters
- 4 ice cubes, including 3 full and 1 crushed into pieces
Select juicier limes with a smooth peel and avoid those with a soft peel, which indicates that the fruit is old. Follow the sequence of steps described in the method to obtain the perfect caipirinha.
- Cut the limes into quarters like an apple, i.e. from top to bottom (‘polar’ cut and not ‘equatorial’). This way, you can easily remove the white and fibrous inner portion that might leave behind a bitter taste in the caipirinha. And don’t remove the peel: The green color is a must as it looks like the Brazilian flag!
- Then cut each quarter into three and drop the pieces into the bottom of the glass, peel side down and pulp side up. This will prevent the bitterness of the peel from being released when you press down with the pestle
- Sprinkle sugar on the pieces of lime
- Crush the lime wedges with a pestle to extract juice, but not too hard, otherwise the bitterness from the peel will also get released
- Drop in three whole ice cubes
- Add the crushed pieces of the 4th ice cube on top
- Pour the cachaça
Remember: If you have to make caipirinha for many people, prepare it in several glasses, one at a time as described above, and not in a bowl.
As is often the case with other cocktails, there are variations of caipirinha using other alcohols instead of cachaça. For example, Caipiroska (with vodka), Caipisake (with sake) or Grapparinha (with grappa). If you use other fruits instead of lime, you’ll have a Caipifruta. You could also prepare a non-alcoholic version, by using tonic water (Schweppes) instead of cachaça.
Enjoy some nice caipirinhas with your buddies !
SAÚDE! (Cheers in Portuguese)