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This caipirinha recipe is pretty straightforward and delicious to sip with friends or family on a sunny day.
The Brazilian national drink, the caipirinha is a refreshing cocktail we simply adore.
Spending a day at the beach without having at least one caipirinha sounds like an incomplete day to many Brazilians, including me.
(Drinking caipirinha is a must-do in Brazil!)
Because this cocktail is so simple, it requires quality ingredients, so it’s essential to choose a good spirit. I’ll talk about my favorite one below.
The main ingredient in a caipirinha is cachaça, Brazilian alcohol that is funky and vegetal.
And as every distilled drink has its signature cocktail – rum has the mojito, tequila has the margarita –, cachaça is a must-have for a caipirinha.
Read next: 30 delicious Brazilian dishes
Learn the right caipirinha recipe from a local
As a Brazilian who traveled extensively around the world, I can tell you that only once I had a caipirinha abroad that I actually said, “that’s a good one.” It’s was in Lisbon.
The other times I’ve had it, they were too sweet, too strong, too bitter, or watery.
That was something quite interesting to learn because, as you will see, the national drink of Brazil is pretty easy to prepare.
So here’s my personal recipe for caipirinha. I hope you enjoy this Brazilian cocktail as much as my Dutch husband and I do.
A little background
Before we talk more about this caipirinha recipe, let’s talk about its main ingredient – the cachaça.
Cachaça pronunciation: Kah-shah-sah
Caipirinha pronunciation: Kai-pee-reen-ya
What is cachaça?
Cachaça is a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane and has an ABV between 38-48%. Anything softer or stronger is considered brandy.
Also, for a spirit to have the denomination of cachaça it must be extracted from sugar cane and produced in Brazil.
Fun fact: There’s no such thing as Brazilian cachaça. This is redundant. All cachaça is produced in Brazil, otherwise, it may not have this name by law.
This drink should primarily reveal the aromas and flavors of sugar cane and secondly the aromas of the fermentation.
Besides ethanol, other components such as aldehydes, esters, acids are present in cachaça and contribute to the formation of its identity as a rich and tasty drink.
It’s similar to white rum, but still quite different. Cachaça differs in that it’s not made from sugar cane molasses but the cane juice itself, lending it a more floral, grassy, herbaceous flavor profile than its rum counterparts.
Quick questions about caipirinha
I received these questions through my Instagram account and I decided to add it here so you can benefit from the answers as well.
What’s the difference between a mojito and a caipirinha?
Although mojito and caipirinha are similar, they taste completely different from each other. Besides rum, sugar, and lime juice, the mojito is a cocktail that also consists of soda water and mint.
This gives this Cuban drink a herbaceous mint flavor and makes it not so strong as caipirinha.
So no, the caipirinha is not the same as mojito as many people believe.
Does cachaça expire?
If the bottle is still closed, it can last up to 20 years. After opened, the contact with the oxygen might slightly change its flavor, but it still can be stored for years.
How strong is caipirinha?
Since its main ingredient is considerably strong, somewhere between 38-48% ABV, the caipirinha is a tricky cocktail.
That’s because the addition of sugar and lime juice on the rocks trick you into believing this Brazilian drink isn’t going to get you tipsy. Wrong.
What does caipirinha taste like?
Caipirinha is a refreshing drink that tastes like a sweet lime juice with a grassy aftertaste. Its simplicity makes it an excellent drink for a hot day on the beach or during a barbecue with friends.
As mentioned above, caipirinha cocktails have a high proportion of alcohol compared to the rest of the ingredients.
For that reason, be sure to sip it and enjoy it slowly. Because caipirinha is a fresh cocktail perfect for the summer, you can easily drink it as if it was juice, but when you get up to go to the toilet. Oh, my. Then you realize how strong it really is.
That’s why this cachaça drink is tricky. You drink it without really tasting the booze, just the fresh fruit, and when you realize you had more than you should have of it.
Caipirinha variations you might like
- Caipirila: prepare your caipirinha recipe with tequila instead of cachaça.
- Caipimojito: prepare a mojito and use cachaça instead of white rum.
- Caipiroska: prepare a caipirinha cocktail with vodka.
- Caipisake: prepare a caipirinha drink with sake.
- Caipirita: prepare a margarita and use cachaça instead of tequila.
- Caipirissima: prepare a caipirinha drink with rum.
Tip from a local: Caipirinha is the perfect match to a black bean stew, aka feijoada.
What you will need to prepare your caipirinha cocktail
- Bottle of cachaça. I found this brand on a US website and rest assured, this is a brand of cachaça I know personally. Remember: only cachaças produced in Brazil can carry this name on their bottle.
- Old fashioned glass: to give the perfect feel and vibe to this authentic Brazilian drink.
- Cocktail set: it’s much easier to prepare your cocktail with a proper set instead of muddling the lime in the glass. But if you prefer, you can instead buy a muddler for that.
Tips for making the perfect caipirinha
- Bitter? No, thanks. To avoid a bitter taste in your drink, cut the lime in half, lengthwise, remove the pith from the middle, and cut it into quarters.
- Caipirinha, sweet caipirinha! The last step to preparing the perfect caipirinha is to place the lime pieces with the flesh up, cover them with sugar, and press them rather than muddling to release the juice.
- Rule of thirds! If you’re preparing caipirinha for a group of people, follow the rule of thirds: 1 part of the jar filled with lime, 1 part with ice cubes, and 1 part with cachaça.
How to make caipirinhas
This Brazilian cocktail is easy-peasy to prepare. Once you have the ingredients for this caipirinha recipe, you could be sipping your drink in less than 5 minutes.
- Cachaça: strong Brazilian spirit, the clear version is the most used one for caipirinhas.
- Lime: we usually use the fruit because it tastes and looks better.
- Sugar: in Brazil, we usually prepare this drink with superfine sugar because it dissolves easily.
- Ice cubes
Directions for caipirinha recipe
Wash the lime before cutting it in half, lengthwise. As said, be sure to remove the pith to avoid a bitter taste in your caipirinha.
Put the lime pieces with the flesh up in the cocktail shaker, and add the sugar on top of them.
With the muddler, gently press the lime pieces to release the juice.
Muddling requires some technique but the key is to wake up the aromas of the fruit without bruising it.
Bruising the lime releases a chemical that damage the taste of cocktails, so a muddler helps you release the juice of the fruit in a gentle way.
Next, add the ice cubes and cachaça to the cocktail shaker. Close it and shake it, baby.
Shake it for a few seconds before pouring it into your glass. Your hand will get cold pretty fast so be quick.
If you’re muddling it in the glass, simply add the ice cubes and cachaça, and stir well.
If you wish, you can garnish the glass with a lime slice.
Aproveite sua bebida! (Enjoy your drink!)
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- 2fl. oz (60ml) cachaça
- 1 lime, quartered
- 2 tsp superfine sugar
- Ice cubes
- Cut the lime in half, lengthwise, and remove the pith in the middle.
- Put the lime pieces with the flesh up in the cocktail shaker or glass, and add the sugar on top of them.
- With the muddler, gently press the lime pieces to release the juice.
- Add the ice cubes and cachaça to the cocktail shaker and shake it.
- If you’re muddling it in the glass, simply add the ice cubes and cachaça, and stir well.
- If you wish, you can garnish the glass with a lime slice.
Aproveite sua bebida! (Enjoy your drink!)
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 53 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 2mg Carbohydrates: 15g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 10g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 0g
Bruna was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and traveled extensively throughout the country. She studied Economy in college and Brazilian Culture at home. She loves helping people to make the most out of their travel to Brazil. Bruna is also an expert in Brazilian food and is more than happy to teach you, dear reader, all of her mom’s and grandma’s recipes.