The first time I tried a Caipirinha was in Bar Harbor, Maine, of all places. Michael and I were on a Summer get-away with our friends Jamie and Ela. We were having dinner at Havana, which is a Latin American restaurant in the center of town. The bartender convinced me and Ela to try his specialty, which happened to be the national cocktail of Brazil.
In the great words of Anthony Bourdain, “What’s magical about this cocktail is the first taste, it’s like, ‘I don’t know man. It’s a little too something.’ And then that second sip, it’s like, ‘aw, that’s kinda good.’ Then the third sip, it’s ‘where are my pants?'”
These are strong, but they are delicious and they’re very easy to make. The key ingredient in a caipirinha is cachaça (ka cha sa), which is distilled liquor from sugarcane juice. Cachaça is actually a cousin of white rum, but flavor-wise, it’s grassy and a bit smoky (similar to tequila). It’s not available at all liquor stores, but I was able to find it here.
A couple years ago my friend Carolina, a native Brazilian, mixed-up a batch for a Carnaval celebration. This is her official recipe.
1 small lime, cut into wedges (remove the outer the tips)
1 tbsp extra fine sugar
2 oz cachaça (I used Pitu)
Muddle the lime wedges with the sugar in an 6 – 8 oz old-fashioned glass. Add ice and cachaça and shake well.
Note from Carolina: if you can’t find cachaça, substitute vodka and this becomes a caipiroska.