I have a very serious condition. Every 4 years I come down with a debilitating disease…it takes over my life and I cannot concentrate on anything – that disease is more formally known as World Cup Fever!! I love that every 4 years staying up late and drinking too much becomes a socially acceptable thing, even if just for a few weeks.
So to get us all into the World Cup spirit I figured it would be a perfect time to write about Brazil’s national drink; the mere mention of this cocktail around Brazilians will be met with a myriad of hi-fives and approving nods – that drink is the Caipirinha.
The main ingredient in Caipirinha (pronounced kai pee reen yah – with the “r” slightly rolled) is Cachaça. More commonly referred to as “Pinga” by Brazilians; cachaça is often labelled as Brazilian rum, and although most Australian bottle shops shelve it in the rum section, it’s not really a rum per say. In a similar way that cider is made from fermenting apple juice – Brazilian cachaça is essentially alcohol that is made by fermenting the juice from the first pressings of sugar canes.
FYI – If you are drinking it straight up, it is customary to tip a few drops to the ground for the saints before you drink it; you’ll earn some huge street cred as well.
Caipirinha translated into Portuguese (Brazilians speak Portuguese – not Spanish) means “little country bumpkin”, “little hick” or what I would equate to in Aussie terms as “little bogan”. Whatever the name means it doesn’t really matter as absolutely everyone in Brazil is partial to a caipirinha or two… or three. There is a great balance between the sweet and sour in this drink and you get a nice oiliness from the peel of the lime which is essential in this drink. Also as cachaça is made from cane sugar, it smells quite nice and goes down with ease. Speaking from experience you never stop at one caipirinha so make sure you have plenty of limes handy.
With only 3 basic ingredients: cachaça, fresh limes and sugar; caipirinhas are a breeze to make. A point of contention is whether white sugar or raw/brown should be used here but the general consensus is that white sugar is more traditional. Being the curious type, I did test the recipe out with the dark sugars and whilst they did give me bigger, bolder and more complex flavours; the ones I made with white sugar were much more refreshing and nicer to drink so I’m sticking with that. You also don’t need any cocktail shakers or bar equipment other than a muddler or any other stick like thing such as a pestle (from your mortar and pestle).
- 60ml or 2 ounces of cachaça
- Half a lime or a whole lime depending on how tart you like it
- 2 - 3 teaspoons of sugar, again depending on how sweet you like it
- A good amount of crushed ice
- Wash your limes thoroughly and then slice them vertically rather than across the middle. Doing this makes it easier to cut into the middle and remove the core of the lime before cutting it into quarters.
- Pop the limes into the bottom of your glass (or jar in my case because I’m cool) and then pour the sugar over the top and muddle the sugar and lime together well by mashing it with your muddler or pestle or rolling pin, etc . What you are doing here is getting the juice out from the limes and releasing the natural oils in the lime skin which all add to the flavour.
- Now you will want to top off your glass with plenty of crushed ice. I prefer this over whole ice cubes as I made one later using ice cubes and it wasn’t as nice to drink and felt kind of clunky so just smash the ice up in a tea towel or ice crusher if you have one and add it into the glass.
- Last step is to pour in the cachaça and then stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar. Don’t worry if there is a little bit of undissolved sugar left at the bottom of the glass – it makes for a nice finish to the drink!
That’s pretty much it – I told you it was easy didn’t I? This is a great drink to be had while watching those early 1:30am games or even just on a lazy afternoon on the weekend. All that’s left to do is head out to your local bottle shop or Dan Murphy’s and pick up a bottle of cachaça (which will most likely be in the rum section) and have one for yourself!