Looking to shake things up tonight? Then party it up Brazil-style with the caipirinha cocktail.
The name “caipirinha” (kai-pur-reen-yah) is a Brazilian term that roughly translates to “little peasant girl.” A simple name for a simple drink, caipirinha has only 3 ingredients: green lemons (or limes), sugar, and cachaça (ka-SHAH-suh) liquor.
That said, it still packs such a wallop of tropical pizzazz, it makes your backyard barbeque feel like a weekend on the exotic beaches of Brazil. It’s no wonder it’s Brazil’s national cocktail. To find out more about the caipirinha and how to make it, keep reading.
The History of the Caipirinha Cocktail
The history of the caipirinha cocktail is legend. That is to say, no one knows for sure exactly when and how caipirinha first became a cocktail.
Some say the drink was used as a cold and flu medicine during World War I. These reports claim that the lemon juice was used for its high concentration of vitamin C and that the alcohol was to help the Vitamin absorb into the body better. It’s also reported that the original recipe included garlic and honey, also for medicinal reasons.
Whether these accounts are true or not has not been confirmed. But one thing’s clear.
At some point, someone decided the drink would taste a lot better if you take out the garlic and replace the honey with sugar. And they were right.
A Note About the Ingredients
As mentioned earlier, there aren’t many ingredients needed to make caipirinha. However, you are going to need cachaca. What is cachaca? Well, cachaça is a liquor distilled from fermented sugar cane juice, similar to rum. However, rum usually uses molasses while cachaça does not.
You should be able to find cachaca at your local liquor store. Not too long ago it would be a hard find. But with the growing popularity of the Brazilian cocktail, first-rate brands of cachaca are more easily found outside of Brazil.
In Brazil, the recipe calls for indigenous Brazillian green lemons. Since these aren’t widely available outside Brazil, most other countries simply use limes.
For the right texture, use simple syrup instead of crunchy, granulated sugar. The syrup is also better because it dissolves instantly into the drink.
How to Make Caipirinhas
Note: Brazilians typically make caipirinhas one or sometimes even two at a time. But if you are entertaining, we get it if you need to batch process in order to avoid muddling all night long.
Now, let’s make some caipirinhas! To start with you’ll probably have to go shopping for some cachaça. And since green lemons are native to Brazil, but rare elsewhere, pick up some limes while you’re at it.
- 3/4 of a freshly cut lime
- Simple syrup at a 1:2 ratio to the liquor
First, cut the lime into quarters. Muddle three of the quarters against the side of an old-fashioned glass.
Be slow and thorough with your muddling to make sure you squeeze out as much juice as you can. You’re fine to crush the peel along with the flesh to release its delicious oils.
Now, don’t throw out the spent wedges! You’re going to keep these floating around in the drink. But before adding the rest of the ingredients, be sure you position the wedges peel-side-down in the glass.
Next, add the simple syrup and stir/muddle some more. Add the ice (traditionally cubed, not crushed), pour on the liquor, and stir. Then, enjoy!
The perfect measurement of ingredients is hard to say. It depends on how much liquor you add; you want half as much syrup as liquor. But the liquor goes unmeasured in Brazil as they don’t use a measure.
Ultimately, you’ll have to experiment to find your desired ratio. But we’re pretty sure you won’t have a problem with that.
Enjoy Your Caipirinha Cocktail
The caipirinha cocktail is the perfect way to cool off on those hot summer nights and to pair with your favorite Brazilian dishes with this tantalizing taste of the tropics!
If you’d like to bring home a taste of Brazil, visit our online store and shop for Brazilian foods and drinks.
¿Uno más? Click here to learn all about Peru’s national drink, the delicious pisco sour cocktail.
Our blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods & drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a wide variety of hard to find freshly imported foods & drinks from all over Latin America and Spain.