If you go to Brazil it´s more than likely that you will get to taste a caipirinha. The lime and sugarcane alcohol cocktail is really refreshing and an energizer for those late hot nights. I will start with a bit of history and finish off with a recipe.

It´s impossible to discuss the history of this drink without talking about cachaça. The sugarcane alcohol that was invented by the Portuguese in the 16th century is just like rum
made from sugarcane. The taste is very different, this because cachaça is distilled from sugarcane juice while rum is made from a bi product from sugar extraction (molasses).

In the beginning it was a drink for slaves and the poor but soon it grew in popularity and became a drink for all Brazilians. Some say that the habit of mixing fruits with the drink was an invention of indian slaves, the European immigrants did not use many of the fruits that were growing in abundance in Brazil. The old distillates were probably rough and foul tasting and a bit of fruit and sugar could probably make it a lot better, when the citric fruits arrived the lime with it´s strong taste would have been a sure hit.

It was only when ice became common in the early 20th century that the actual caipirinha was invented. It grew a lot in popularity and is today the national drink. Believed to help your digestion many people drink one with traditional food like the black bean stew feijoada as well as with barbeque.

Here follows a recipe for a classic caipirinha (1 person):

– Cut a soft lime in eight pieces and remove the white stalk in the middle and put in a flat bottomed glass
– Add a large tablespoon of sugar and mash it lightly with a muddler
– Fill the glass with crushed ice
– Pour and fill to the rim with white cachaça
– Stir brusquely 3 or 4 times and serve with a straw

Note that you are supposed to use a “cheap” white cachaça like 51 or Ypioca and that this drink traditionally is stirred.