If you’ve never had a caipirinha, you are missing out. The classic Brazilian cocktail is made with nothing more than cachaça (a sugarcane-based spirit similar to rum), lime juice, and sugar, making it an easy and refreshing sip that’s perfect for the summer.
While the true origins of the cocktail are not completely known, it’s believed that the recipe first began around 1918. Created in São Paulo, it was made with honey, garlic, and lime as a treatment for patients with the Spanish flu. As it was common to include liquor in home remedies to speed up the effects, cachaça was frequently added. No one knows exactly when the recipe became what it is today, but according to Carlos Lima, the executive director of the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça, “one day someone decided to remove the garlic and honey, then added sugar to reduce the acidity of the lime. The ice came next to ward off the heat.” Once barely known outside of Brazil, the caipirinha has become more popular worldwide, thanks to the growing availability of cachaça. It’s so loved, in fact, that the International Bartenders Association has named it one of their Official “Contemporary Classic” Cocktails.
As August is far too beautiful for your correspondent spending the summer in Rio de Janeiro, she thought it only appropriate that our Cocktail of the Month be the national drink of Brazil. Below is the recipe for creating the perfect caipirinha. You may not be able to pronounce it, but promise that you’ll love it.
- 2 ounces cachaça
- 2 tsp sugar Half a lime, cut into 4 wedges
- Club soda (optional)
In an old fashioned glass, muddle the lime wedges and sugar. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add the cachaça, and stir to combine. Top with a splash of club soda, if desired, and garnish with a lime wedge.