Friday, November 18, 2011

Reader Mailbag: How It's Made: Caipirinha

I have gotten a couple questions asking what exactly a caipirinha is. In case you missed one of my very first blogs describing the caipirinha, it is designated the National Cocktail of Brazil. Here is how its made:

A traditional lime Caipirinha

It has simple ingredients: limes (traditional drink), Cachaca, superfine sugar and crushed ice. Cachaca, also known as "aguardiente", is the most popular distilled spirit in Brazil, and most of the Cachaca on the market is produced there. Many people think of Cachaca as being similar to rum. Rum, however, is mostly produced using molasses where Cachaca is produced using straight cane juice. If you cannot find Cachaca or Aguardiente, you can try substituting rum but the the final product will not be the same. You can also substitute vodka (Caipiroshka), sake (Caipisake), or even a tequilla dependiing on your fancy, but it wont be the same as the traditional Cachaca.

I have drank many of these since arriving in Brazil and call myself an expert. I have even considered leaving my amateur status behind and becoming a professional Caipirinha maker. I would like to point out to my inquiring readers that its not just a drink with limes, but the following fruits are also common here:
Lime (most famous), Lemon, Passion Fruit, Cashew Fruit, Strawberry, Cherry, Tangerine, Pineapple, Kiwi, Mago,

See the Video and the Recipe below for the instructions:

The Caipirinha Recipe
You will need:
  • Cachaca
  • Limes or any other suitable fruit choice (I prefer Cashew Fruit, Passion Fruit, or the Traditional Lime)
  • Superfine sugar
  • Crushed ice
  • A "lowball", "rocks" or "Old-Fashioned" glass
  • A pestle (from a mortar and pestle -- or something similar) for the muddling
  1. Cut the ends off of the lime (or other suitable fruit) and discard.
  2. Cut the lime in half lengthwise and cut out the white pith in the middle.
  3. Cut the lime in half, and cut one half of the lime into four wedges and place in the glass. If your lime is small, you will need to add more lime to the glass.
  4. Add one to three tablespoons of sugar. The amount of sugar depends on your personal taste as well as the size of the lime you are using.
  5. Use the pestle to "muddle" the limes and sugar together. Basically, you want to crush the limes so that they mix in well with the sugar. Be careful not to break the skin of the lime. When you've gotten all of the juice out of the lime, you're done.
  6. Pack crushed ice in the glass all the way to the top.
  7. Add cachaca all the way to the top of the glass. (It's really only about 2 oz.)
  8. Use a larger glass or bottom of a cocktail shaker and put it over the top of your drink. Pick up with two hands and shake very well for at least 15 seconds.
  9. Garnish with a wedge or slice of lime.
  10. Drink...and enjoy the best caipirinha!

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