The Perfect Caipirinha Recipe

First of all, if anyone tells you there is only one way to make to a caipirinha, or that there’s only one “real brazilian way”, it’s simply not true. Having travelled for months all over Brasil and drunk loads of caipirinhas, from the poshest hotel bars, to numerous Brasilian homes, to beach stands, to appalling lanchonetes (Brasilian version of a greasy spoon), I can confirm that the only consistent thing is that you get cachaça, lime, ice and sugar (or artificial sweetener) in a glass. Beyond that, it’s all a lottery. The drink is so ubiquitous and varied, that it’s like claiming there is only one way to make mulled wine, or a hot toddy.

Nonetheless, there are better and worse ways. We base our recipe on the following:

Consistency – is incredibly important for pleasing people, and learning the craft of making drinks.
Hassle factor – ingredients that are easily available, and a quick, easy method
Taste - striking a good balance between strength, flavour and taste

Ingredients (per drink)

Method

Cut the lime into quarters. If you can be bothered, cut out the white core of the lime – it’s bitter. Cut the corners into smaller bits, and put half a limes worth in the tumbler glass.

Add 2 heaped teaspoons of castor sugar. We use castor sugar because it dissolves consistently, rather than half-dissolving and sitting in the bottom of the glass, leaving the sweetness unpredictable. Same reason we don’t use syrup – you can’t ensure the consistency of it – also for those making it at home, it saves you making syrup.

Muddle (squish) the limes. If you don’t have a muddler, here are some kitchen items that are good – a fixed gear rolling pin, a wine bottle upside down, the bottom of a small bottle – e.g. Worcester sauce.

If you have no suitable implement, squeeze the juice out of the lime bits with your fingers as you add them. it’s vital that you get all the juice out the lime bits.

Crush some ice. How you crush your ice is very very important to how your drink comes out. This is because the finer the ice, the faster it melts, and the more dilute the drink. Not fine enough, and the drink tastes too strong.

If you don’t have an ice crusher, I recommend wrapping ice cubes in a tea towel and smashing them hard about 10 times on a hard wall or floor. When you are done, there should be a little bit of ‘snow’. Fill the glass 3/4 full with this crushed ice.

Pour a 50ml shot of Abelha Cachaça over the ice. This is starting to look real good.

Take a cocktail stirrer (or the back of a fork, or a chopstick), place your left palm over the glass, leaving space where your thumb nook is to insert the stirrer, and mix it. Don’t stir, it’s more like whisking. If you use crushed ice, and muddle well, there is no need to use a cocktail shaker to make a caipirinha.

Top the glass up with ice, un-crushed or crushed, and stick a straw in it. You are done.

Edit: here is an excellent instructional video which we made last year after perhaps sampling too much of our own cachaça:

How to make a caipirinha cocktail from Abelha Cachaca on Vimeo.

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11 Comments

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  2. Hey I just had to say, I loved your video! Sad to read that one lime was harmed, but in the face of it all one has to expect casualties…

    Thanks for the video it was educational.

  3. Not bad….but after living in Brazil for many years I can say that they would be horrified by using white castor sugar……brown cane sugar crystals only……then mix / muddle bit at a time until dissolved right.

  4. I agree with Alan – white sugar ! you must be joking, are you sure you had one in Brasil ???

  5. Great video and I totally agree that there’s more than one way to skin a cat – or make a caipirinha! However, I’ve got to echo the comments above… white sugar??? It’ll do at a pinch but it’s good ol’ demerera for me all the way…

  6. It’s funny how it’s the gringos who get all worked up about the sugar! I’m Brazilian and I promise you, white sugar is fine. You just use whichever type of sugar you have to hand, end of. Saude!

  7. This is a great write-up. I will spend more time exploring this topic.

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  11. The amount of sugar depends on the cachaça used. Some cachaças, for example Germana, are already VERY sweet and do not require anywhere near the same amount of added sugar. You can also go heavier on the lime with sweet cachaças… So:

    50ml Germana (or another sweet) cachaça
    1 whole lime
    2 teaspoons of sugar

    NO SUGAR SYRUP!! It never tastes quite right!! Oh, and do NOT use lime juice – muddle the limes in the glass, the oils from the skin transform the drink completely.

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