June 13th, 2008  |  Published in cachaça, recipes  |  5 Comments

Ah, the caipirinha (pronounced kai-purr-een-yah); like the gin and tonic, the refuge of the lazy and thirsty. After all, it uses only three ingredients and any drink good enough to be the national drink of Brazil is good enough for me.

I have a soft spot for cachaça, the sugarcane-derived liquor (rum) that is the base of this drink. It’s kind of a red-headed stepchild, combining the potency of rum with the burnt-rubber taste of mezcal and the edge of blanco tequila. Not exactly the best sell, I know, but as the cocktail revival is in full swing we are starting to get more and more fine cachaças here in the States, which of course means that the cocktails we make with them taste better.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that the cachaça I used to make this caipirinha was a result of my involvement with The people at Cabana Cachaça were kind enough to provide sponsorship for those of us who will be blogging Tales, and they sent each of us a bottle for our trouble. I’m not generally the recipient of a lot of free booze—aside from a few samples here and there, 100% of what I use at home is purchased using money I earn at non-alcohol-related pursuits. (Not the cheapest hobby, but oh well.) I haven’t taken the trouble to specify a blog policy as relates to promotional gifts of liquor as it’s never been an issue, but I can say that I don’t feel obligated to write about anything I receive just because it’s free, most especially if it’s bad. Fortunately I actually like the Cabana, so things worked out well this time around.

2 oz cachaça
half a lime
1 tsp sugar

Cut the lime into ½” slices and cut those slices into cubes. Muddle the lime cubes and the sugar in the bottom of a rocks glass; fill with ice and add cachaça. Stir and serve.

Because the caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil, there are about a million versions of the proportions you can use to make it. This recipe came from James Beard Award-winning author David Wondrich’s Esquire Drinks mostly because it was handy and I was thirsty. I should note that my lime half was insanely juicy (and on the large side), so my drink probably had the equivalent of three-quarters of a lime. Regardless, it’s good. It’s sort of like a less-tangy margarita but with this vague tropical essence—something about the flavor of cachaça suggests “Equatorial” to me. The simplicity of the drink is its strongest attribute, letting the citrus and liquor shine through with just a hint of sweetness. Pretty much perfectly balanced and simple to boot—what’s not to love?

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  1. Dood says:

    June 13th, 2008at 2:18 pm(#)

    When I first tasted the Cabana I surmised that it would be fantastic in a cap. Is 3pm too early to go test my theory?

  2. Scott says:

    June 13th, 2008at 2:49 pm(#)

    I’ve been meaning to make one of these ever since I saw Robert Hess make one on his little tv series. I even have a bottle of Cabana (which is one of the more expensive brands). I think I’ll try it tonight.

  3. Marleigh says:

    June 13th, 2008at 3:40 pm(#)


    3pm is most definitely not too early, especially on a Friday.


    You should! It takes about two minutes to make. Absolutely worth it even if you hate it.

  4. Gunth says:

    June 23rd, 2008at 1:20 pm(#)

    Despite my rather extensive bar, I end up making these probably more than anything else. On a hot summer night, nothing else seems to hit the spot after a hard days work. I’ve experimented with different fruit concentrates, but nothing else seems as good as the original.

  5. Jaime says:

    July 15th, 2008at 5:02 pm(#)

    Nice piece on Cachaça and Caipirinhas. I wanted to pass along a brief video clip for your readers that shows step-by-step directions on how to make a perfect caipirinha.

    **Don’t forget that you can simply swap out limes for any of your favorite fresh fruits.

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