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The Caipirinha

This is a simple, classic drink, and it’s the national cocktail of Brazil. It uses a Brazilian spirit called cachaça, which is a rum made from sugarcane juice (whereas most Caribbean rums are made from molasses). Cachaça used to be hard to find in the states, but now you can find it in many local liquor stores.

• Half of a lime, sliced into 4-5 thin wedges
• 2-3 teaspoons of Turbinado sugar (unrefined sugar, sometimes sold under the brand name “Sugar In The Raw”)
• 2 oz cachaça
• lots of crushed ice

Squeeze and drop the lime wedges into a 8 oz. glass, and dump the sugar on top. Muddle the limes and sugar vigorously – really smash them together! (much of the flavor in this drink comes from the oils in the lime peel. Don’t have a muddler?  A wooden spoon works OK too). Drop crushed ice into the glass, pour in the cachaça, stir, and enjoy.

Notes: 

  • Turbinado sugar really adds to the flavor of the drink, but it does not dissolve quickly. If you like your drinks sweeter (or if you are extremely impatient), try using good-old refined sugar – it will dissolve faster.
  • Cachaça has a very nice taste, kind of like bright young rum with a hint of tequila. But my “sister from another mother” was turned off by even that faint hint of tequila, so if you have a violent physical or mental reaction to the smell of tequila, consider yourself warned.
  • If cachaça is not an option for you because of taste or availability, make a Caipiroska!  Just substitute vodka for the cachaça.

Variations: The above recipe is the classic Brazilian caipirinha, but there are hundreds of variations on this drink. Try crushing 3-4 cranberries with the lime and adding 1.5 oz. of cranberry juice for a nice Christmas Caipirinha, or substitute tangerine and a small chunk of fresh peeled ginger for the lime. Maybe some nice blackberries and a sprig of mint for a summer drink?

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