Caipirinha

Excerpted from Meehan’s Bartending Manual, this classic Brazilian cocktail made with just cachaça, lime, and sugar.

Origin: The Portuguese word caipirinha translates as “little peasant girl” and has been traced back to 1856 by cachaça expert Felipe Jannuzzi. He found a reference to the recipe uncovered by a historian in a document written by civil engineers during a cholera epidemic in the cachaça production region of Paraty.

Logic: According to Portland bartender Andrew Bohrer, the defining characteristic of a traditional Brazilian Caipirinha is that it must be prepared in the glass. He clarifies that when he’s in Brazil, he prefers it prepared in the glass, but at home, he’s come to expect the drink to be shaken and poured unstrained after muddling. It’s a little more complex than the debate over whether to prepare an Old-Fashioned with a sugar cube or syrup, because shaking helps integrate the sugar, which is vital for extracting the oil from the lime peel, but the side effects are aeration and dilution. Instead of assuming how the guest would prefer it to be prepared, give them their options. Industrial cachaça is permitted, but Jannuzzi (and I) prefer unaged artisanal cachaça or bottlings aged in neutral Brazilian woods. Serve it with a metal straw or swizzle for the guest to muddle the limes and stir.

Hacks: If you prepare the Caipirinha with vodka in place of cachaça, it’s called a Caipiroska. The rum-based version is called a Caipirissima. If you substitute other herbs or fruits for Persian lime, it’s called a Caipifruta. Many bartenders prepare the recipe with simple syrup in place of superfine sugar to ensure that all the sugar dissolves, which is logical but deviates from the spirit of the drink.” – Jim Meehan


Reprinted with permission from Meehan’s Bartender Manual, by Jim Meehan, copyright © 2017 by Mixography Inc. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Click here to purchase your own copy. 

INGREDIENTS

 
  • 2 ounces Leblon cachaça
  • 1 Persian (also know as Tahiti) lime
  • 2 barspoons (1 teaspoon) superfine sugar

Makes 1

PREPARATION

  • Slice the ends off the Persian lime and halve from end to end. Slice away the pith from the central column, then quarter each half. Add the lime to a rocks glass with the peels facing the bottom of the glass, then add the sugar. Gently muddle to extract the oil from the peel and juice from the meat. Add the cachaça and ice, then stir to integrate the mixture.
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