I'm an avid foodie, and maintain three foodie blogs about cooking for families, make-ahead meals, and international cookie recipes.
I lived in Miami for five years and never could develop a taste for the mojitos that were served everywhere. One night, I was dining at a fabulous Brazilian churrascaria and was served my very first caipirinha. I was hooked.
The caipirinha, designated the National Cocktail of Brazil, has simple ingredients: Limes, cachaca, superfine sugar, and crushed ice. I've seen other fruits substituted, such as strawberries and cherries, but to me, the real thing is a lime caipirinha.
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 it for rum, but the final product will not be the same. You can also substitute vodka. A caipirinha made with vodka is called a "caipiroska." It's still nowhere in the same league. Find yourself some cachaca for your caipirinha. You'll be glad that you did.
- Superfine sugar
- Crushed ice
- A lowball, rocks, or Old-Fashioned glass
- A pestle (from a mortar and pestle -- or something similar) for the muddling
- Cut the ends off of the lime and discard.
- Cut the lime in half lengthwise and cut out the white pith in the middle.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pack crushed ice in the glass all the way to the top.
- Add cachaca all the way to the top of the glass. (It's really only about 2 oz.)
- 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.
- Garnish with a wedge or slice of lime.