A busy weekend in London flat-hunting has meant I haven’t had much time to dedicate to cocktails, so my drink of choice has been a simple, but very tasty, Brazilian drink, the Caipirinha. The drink makes use of Cachaça (pronounced ka-sha-sa), the most popular spirit in Brazil which the average Brazilian drinks three gallons of every year!
Cachaça is similar to rum, but whereas rum is traditionally made from sugar molasses (a by-product of sugar cane processing), Cachaça is made from sugar cane itself. Its taste is a bit different to most rums though, having quite a fiery kick and a more earthy tone. Like rum it is available in both unaged (white) and aged (gold) varieties. Cachaça is, surprisingly, quite easily available in the UK. Supermarket Waitrose stocks Sagatiba Cachaça in most stores at quite a reasonable price, and I believe other brands are available in some off-licenses.
- 2 shots Cachaça
- ¾ lime, quartered
- 4 bar-spoons sugar syrup
- Muddle lime in bottom of an old-fashioned glass, add sugar syrup and cracked-ice, then add Cachaça and stir well.
Traditionally the Caipirinha uses granulated sugar rather than syrup, but as with the Old Fashioned I prefer the use of sugar syrup to avoid undissolved granules in the drink. The sugar granules do have the advantage of helping to grind the lime skin, releasing the zest oils, but my muddler has a serrated bottom which does a similar job so I don’t think I’m losing anything by going the syrup route. It’s important to remove the bitter central pith from the lime before muddling – this is demonstrated excellently here.
Considering its small list of ingredients, and the use of unaged Cachaça, the Caipirinha has a surprisingly complex flavour. The lime and sugar syrup balance nicely and tame the fire of the Cachaça without overpowering its unique flavour. Simple yet interesting, it makes a lovely refreshing drink for a hot summer day. Be sure to play about with the amount of lime and/or sugar you add to find the ratio you prefer, and also remember that the strength of the lime can vary depending on amongst other things its age.
- 2 shots rum
- ¾ lime, quartered
- 3 bar-spoons sugar syrup
- Muddle lime in bottom of an old-fashioned glass, add sugar syrup and cracked-ice, then add rum and stir well.
The Caipirissima is a Caipirinha with rum rather than Cachaça. If you can’t get hold of a bottle of Cachaça then this is a good start, although given Cachaça’s unique flavour is does taste a bit different. Looking at the ingredient list it may remind you of another rum cocktail, the Daiquiri. It’s true they are very similar on paper, however the muddling of the lime in the Caipirissima gives a slightly different flavour than the squeezed lime of the Daiquiri. The Caipirissima is usually made with white rum, but I’ve found a good aged rum (Havana Club 7 Year Old in this case) works nicely too. It gives a much smoother taste than the Caipirinha, but it’s equally as interesting.
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