Brazilian Caipirinha Cocktail

By on September 7, 2012

Cachaca bottled with humorous labels

Last week in Belo Horizonte, Brazil,  I did yeoman’s service in trying to find the best of their iconic national cocktail, the Caipirinha. But, in searching for the best caipirinha recipe I found there are a lot of variations. It looks like everyone makes it in its own way.

At the Food Festival in Tiradentes, I spoke with a bar tender who had made about 1,000 in an afternoon.  That guy was fast.  They speeded up the process by precutting limes and lemons into little tetrahedons. But in every caipirinha recipe there are 4 ingredients: cachaça, lime, sugar and ice.  However, that busy bartender even made them with vodka when the Cachaca ran out.  They tasted fine.

aged Val Verde cachaca. yum.

Cachaca is the national drink of Brazil.  A cousin to rum,  its a distilled spirit made from sugar cane that can range in price from nearly nothing to some pretty scary stuff up to forty fifty bucks for aged 12 years or more.  At the Val Verde distillery we saw the whole process from distilling to aging in old oak barrels.  Plus they had a fabulous zoo with zillions of birds et al.


bartender brings us our Caiprinhas

At a bar near our hotel in Belo Horizonte they made the ne plus ultra Caipirinha by stirring ittogether in a shaker, then adding bits of dry ice to the bottom of a soda glass – yes the same glass we make ice cream sodas in – then pouring it over the dry ice and plopping a straw in it.  It bubbled as festively as Vesuvias and I swear the bubbles made it taste even better.

The Caipirinha is definitely a warm weather drink.  If you can’t lay hands on Cachaca,  don’t hesitate to make it with vodka.  It works.

 Brazilian Caipirinha Cocktail

1 ½ oz  Cachaca (or vodka)

1/2 a Lime and lemon sliced into small tetrahedrons

2 teaspoons sugar

Ice cubes

a well made Caipirinha with dry ice in the bottom of the glass

First cut of the ends of a lime and lemon.  Then cut the lime in half, remove the bitter center pit from the lime.  Slice half of the lime in four to eight small pieces.  Put lime and lemon wedges in the glass.  Add sugar.  Crush the lime and sugar together with  a Muddler in order to extract juice and essential oils from the skin of the citrus.  Fill the glass with ice cubes.  Pour cachaca all the way to the top of the glass.  Pour the content of the glass into the shaker, shake it well and pour it back into the glass


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About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”