The national Brazilian cocktail is called Caipirinha has Cachaça as the main ingredient. Also known as Pinga, Caninha, Marvada, Bendita, Aguardente, Paraty and many other nicknames, Cachaça is a distilled spirit made from sugar cane with historical records showing its first appearance in 1532 as a result of the plentiful production of sugar cane back in the time when Brazil was still a Portuguese colony. The most accepted version of the origin of Caipirinha tells that it started in the pharmacies of the state of São Paulo as custom-made medicine to cure flues and colds that was made with lime, honey, garlic and a few drops of spirit. Later, sugar was added to balance the acidity of the lime and then came the ice to beat off the heat.
Caipirinha is sold all over Brazil, in pubs and bars (that we call botecos), beach front restaurants and Cachaçarias, the specialty shops you can taste all sorts of cocktails made with Cachaça accompanied by deep-fried snacks. In Brazil, alcohol is allowed to be consumed at the beaches, so it is very common to see people taking their Caipirinha kit in a cooler bag to be prepared under the beach umbrella and then drank to cool down the heat of Brazilian summer! Because Brazilians spend the whole day at the beach, before leaving the holiday house or hotel there is a ritual involved in gathering things to take, just to make sure you don’t leave anything behind. So picture this: say a family of four carrying two beach umbrellas, beach chairs, a bag with sunscreen and towels, toys, plenty of food and the Caipirinha kit! Only in Brazil…
Caipirinha used to be done by pounding plain caster sugar with lime, however on more modern versions of the drink a sugar syrup is made so the caster sugar does not sediment on the bottom of the glass and, as a consequence, there is no need to keep stirring the drink. A perfect drink to accompany finger food, a barbecue or to be enjoyed in your next cocktail party!
2 large limes
2 tbs caster sugar
Plenty of ice cubes
*Available from liquor stores and online
1. Finely slice the lime until you reach half of it and reserve the slices. Quarter the other half and place the pieces into a mortar. Repeat with the other lime.
2. In a small saucepan combine sugar and water and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, without stirring for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer to a glass to cool.
3. Pound the lime pieces in the mortar and pestle to extract all the juices of the limes and the flavour of the skin.
4. Pour 50 ml syrup and half of the lime juice into a glass and stir with a wooden stick. Add half of the pieces and lime slices, reserving one slice for garnishing. Put ice cubes until you almost reach the top of the glass. Pour cachaça on top of the ice, stir and garnish with a lime slice. Repeat with the other glass and serve immediately.