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The Caipirinha: Fun to Make, Easy to Drink, Hard to Pronounce

The Caipirinha

The Caipirinha

  • The Caipirinha
  • The Caipirinha
  • The Caipirinha

By Camper English, contributor

March 18th, 2011

First, a pronunciation lesson:

Caipirinha: Kai-Pee-Reen-Ya

Cachaça: Ka-Shah-Suh

Those words are Brazil's most popular cocktail and its native spirit, respectively. Cachaça is Brazilian rum that is made from the fermented juice of sugarcane, as opposed to most rum that is made from molasses, the byproduct of sugar production. Cachaça is often more robustly flavored and vegetal than traditional white rums, but not always.

The Caipirinha is a rustic form of a Daiquiri: just rum, sugar, and lime. But the rum is cachaca, the sugar is usually raw or turbinado, and the limes are muddled and left in the drink.


2 fl. oz. Cachaça
Half a lime, quartered
2 tsp. Sugar (preferably a "raw" or turbinado sugar) or .5 fl. oz. simple syrup

Place lime wedges and sugar in a rocks glass. With a muddler press down and twist the limes to release the juice (and the oils in the peel). Add crushed ice, then cachaça and stir the drink. Fill up with ice.

Most cachaça made in Brazil is industrial in nature and flavor. It's a rough spirit so the bits of lime pulp, oils from the peel, and a more robustly flavored brown sugar soften it. When using a more refined cachaça (see below) I tend to use simple syrup and sometimes I even strain the drink and serve it in a cocktail glass, just like a Daiquiri.

Flavored Caipirinhas are another popular way to serve the spirit. Take whatever berry or fruit is in season and throw it into the glass with the limes to muddle it together. Should you host a muddle-your-own-Caipirinha party this summer, you can put out a variety of fresh ingredients for people to mix, much like a build-your-own-Bloody Mary bar.

The Caipirinha has become a global cocktail, popular in nightclubs and beach parties around the world. In Germany the drink has been popular for more than a decade. In the US, refined, boutique brands of cachaça including Leblon, Cabana, and Sagatiba help make the drink a little more elegant. They bring cachaça and the Caipirinha off the beach and into the cocktail bar.

Now we just need to practice their pronunciation so the bartender will understand us when we order one.

posted in: Blogs, drinks, cocktails, camper english, cachaca, caipirinha
Comments (6)

BananaSmellford writes: I enjoy this recipe, but usually I prefer vodka to rum. There's a video tutorial for a great vodka version here: Posted: 2:21 pm on November 20th

valterf writes: Sagatiba wants to be the Absolut Vodka of the Cachaças, totally fail but works to sell internationally.
As a brazilian I would recommend my most favorite variation, with Lychee. Posted: 3:32 am on March 31st

Jaimek1616 writes: BasementBaker you're right. In Brazil, you will never find an industrial cachaça for more than $10. However, not all cachaça is created equal (as is the same for tequila, rum, and vodka)you will never find a quality alambique cachaça in Brazil for under $20 (and most sell for $30 unaged). The difference in taste and quality, especially in a well-made Caipirinha, is night and day. Posted: 9:31 am on March 24th

cachacafan writes: I once paid .50 for a bottle of Stoli in Russia... but it did cost me $1500 to fly there and back!

Shipping and excise taxes are a huge component of all imported liquors... those lawmakers love their sin taxes Posted: 9:09 am on March 24th

CamperEnglish writes: Honey sounds like a great option. I haven't been to Brazil yet to have them on-site but I'm hoping to get there soon! Posted: 11:41 pm on March 23rd

BasementBaker writes: I've had them in Brazil made with honey. Either way this is one of my favorite cocktails! It is just hard for me to pay over $20 for a bottle of cachaca that cost $1 in Brazil... Posted: 3:31 pm on March 23rd

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