History of the Caipirinha
No one is entirely sure when this drink was first invented, but one of the most common stories is that the original version – made using garlic, honey, lime, and some alcohol to heighten the effect – was used as a cure for the Spanish flu in 1918. Eventually, the garlic and honey were replaced with sugar, while ice cubes were added for a more refreshing beverage.
The essence of Brazil
The caipirinha is a quintessentially Brazilian drink for many reasons. Apart from being light, cool, and refreshingly citrusy – all of which are important in Brazil’s warm, humid climate – the ingredients are all locally grown: cachaça is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. Sugarcane has been Brazil’s most important product going as far back as the 16th century, so it’s easy to see why cachaça became so popular in the country. Brazil is also the world’s biggest producer of limes – so you can hardly get more Brazilian than this cocktail recipe.
The name caipirinha comes from the Portuguese word “caipira,” which means “person from the countryside.” With the diminutive “inha” added onto the end, it means “little countryside drink.” It quickly spread from these humble beginnings and is now one of the top 25 cocktails consumed around the world.
Making a Caipirinha
This classic Brazilian cocktail is simple and quick to make. It consists of just three ingredients: lime, sugar, and a Brazilian spirit called cachaça. To make a single serving, all you need to do is cut half of a lime into wedges and muddle it in a lowball glass with two teaspoons of sugar. Fill the glass with ice cubes, top off with 1 ½ fluid ounces of cachaça, stir, and you’re ready to go!
(An alternative with vodka exists, called ‘caiproska’)
How to serve it
There are many variations on this popular drink, so don’t feel like you have to forgo the caipirinha if you can’t find cachaça in your local liquor shop or you don’t like the taste of lime. You can also try a different twist on the traditional recipe, replacing lime with strawberry, passion fruit, pineapple, or just about any other berry or citrus fruit you can think of. Although it’s not technically considered a caipirinha without the Brazilian liquor, if you’re struggling to find cachaça, you can also replace it with vodka (which makes a caipiroska), rum (for a caipirissima), or even sake (resulting in a sakerinha).
Whether you’re planning a Brazilian-themed party, looking for a new drink to serve at your next cocktail party, or just stuck for something new to order at the bar, the caipirinha is a classic drink that gives a true taste of Brazil.