June 17th, 2007

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.

Caipirinha and Caipirissima cocktails with Sagatiba Pura Cachaça and Havana Club 7 Year Old rum bottles in background


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.


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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Posted in Cachaça, Lime, Recipes, Rum

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13 responses to “Cachaça”

  1. Dr. Bamboo Dr. Bamboo says:

    I just tried one of these for the first time a few weeks ago, and I’m now a big fan. I love the simplicity of the recipe, and the distinctive taste.

    The only problem is that like many drinks, everyone seems to have a slightly different take on the ingredients and proportions. I found a recipe I like, but I’m still curious as to all the variations.

  2. Jay Jay says:

    There really is nothing quite like the taste of a Caipirinha is there! What proportions do you use Craig? I know it’s more common to use 1/2 a lime, but I quite like lime, and use quite a large pour of Cachaça, so find 3/4 (or sometimes even a whole one if I’m in the mood) just right.

  3. Dr. Bamboo Dr. Bamboo says:

    Jay, I believe this is the recipe I followed (I’m not 100% sure), which I found at:

    1.75 oz Cachaca Mãe de Ouro
    1/2 Fresh Tahiti Lime
    1 – 2 teaspoons superfine cane sugar

    Cut off the ends of the lime and cut it into eight even wedges. Be sure to remove the white core. Sprinkle the sugar over 4 lime slices in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass. With a wood pestle; press only the core of the fruit, without pressing the rind. This prevents the drink from becoming sour. Fill the glass with ice and add Cachaca Mae de Ouro. Shake or stir well. Serve in a glass decorated with a slice of lime.

    Here’s a video by the same people that I also used as reference:

    I used a different brand of Cachaca (”Pitu”, the only one I could find at the time), and I’m not sure what type of limes I had. I did use the superfine sugar (1 tsp.), and I shook rather than stirred. I thought it came out great, but knowing me I’ll probably tinker with the proportions a bit.

    I also used granulated pure cane sugar a few times, but had a harder time getting it to dissolve fully.

  4. Dan Dan says:

    Nothing beats sitting on Copacabana 2am in the morning sipping a caipirinha :)

    If you have a bottle of 51 (others may apply but the other cachaca I have doesn’t work with these ratios.

    1 lime. remove the white thing in the middle, 3tbl spoons of white sugar, muddle, add 3-4cl cachaca (51) and fill with cruched ice, stir. top with cruched ice. Increase the cachaca if you want. But this, in my humble opinion makes the perfect caipirinha.

  5. Jay Jay says:

    Dan, I can only imagine how lovely sipping a caipirinha on the beach must be! 3 tablespoons seems like a lot of sugar for just 4cl of Cachaça, but I suppose using a whole lime would help balance that out. Next time I have one I might just give your recipe a try.

  6. Dan Dan says:

    Jay, yeah.. A lot of the sugar will we left in the bottom undisolved when you’re done though, and the table spoons I have at home are pretty small. I dare you to try it ;-)

  7. Cachaça Gabriela – Organic Cachaça Gabriela - Organic says:

    Brazilian cachaça is the new sweetheart in the web

    You must know what quality is when you taste an organic and artisan beverage, typical from Brazil. Cachaça Gabriela is now available at The Drink Shop (, one of the biggest website of selling alcoholic beverages.

    You can buy the Gold or the Silver, to receive at home. And if you buy 6 bottles, there is a discount. That’s a good way to show your friends you know what a good taste is and offer them high Brazilian quality.

    Tast it:

  8. Walter Walter says:

    Just a little precision. Cachaça doesn’t differ from rum in that it is made from sugarcane juice. Rum was originally and still is made from fresh sugarcane juice (for instance Martinique’s rhum agricole), even though modern rums, especially the cheap ones (Bacardi), are mostly made from molasses. The main difference is the distillation process. Cachaça is distilled at a much lower proof, around 40°, and bottled immediately, where rum is distilled between 65° and 75°, then aged in oak barrels (dark rums) or bottled after a short resting time (white rums).

    Lower proof distillation retains more of the “fermented grass” flavours.
    Higher proof distillation yields a more neutral, vodka type, alcohol.
    Ageing and resting, even for a short period of time, produces a smoother, more complex spirit.

    But beware, rum is maybe the spirit which quality varies the most. You can find “super premiums” better tasting than or equal to the best cognacs and “super cheap” rums less potable than rubbing alcohol. Most people that don’t care for rum have only tasted light bodied rums disguised as full bodied rums by addition of a caramel colourant. Truly aged rums have a greenish copper colour and cling to the glass.

  9. Heather Heather says:

    I tried many brands of Cachaça but by far I like Cabana the best. It’s double distilled unlike other brands which are only single distilled, so it’s suuuper smooth and really tastes great. That should make your Caipirinhias, Caipirissimas and all other sorts of Cachaça experiments (just tried a Brazilian Wax cocktail !) taste way better. Cheers!!!

  10. Marco Zvanik Marco Zvanik says:

    Making a Caipirinha is simple yet can still be difficult if not done properly. Muddling the sugar with not less than half a lime is key. Stay away from simple syrups as they add water to the drink and you cannot control the sweetness. Also, using granulated sugar helps in releasing some of the oils found in the lime skin which are part of the Caipirinha’s flavor. For more drink ideas using Cachaca, try our website at or go to the US Cachaca Trade Council site at


  11. John Gakuru John Gakuru says:

    Hi all,

    It’s great to see such a healthy discussion about cachaça!

    Feel free to come and join Sagatiba’s facebook group, which I manage. I try to keep it up to date with where Sagatiba can be purchased and enjoyed and there is quite a vibrant group of cachaca fans on there.

    Also, on the Sagatiba webpage there are loads of cachaca recipes easily accessible here…

    Have fun and continue to enjoy cachaca in all it’s wonderful forms!


  12. Pedro Laurentino Pedro Laurentino says:

    Hi everybody!

    Just a note from a north-eastern brazilian: Caipirissima in Brazil means the caipirinha made up with Pinga, which is the very artisanal cachaça produced by farmers for home consumption. As “issima” is a superlative, it wouldn’t be logical to do a “more than” country (caipira) beverage from a caribbean one. Besides, we also do it with vodka, than it’s called caipiroska. Guess you will know the difference between all of them. Pinga is also a familiar way to describe artisanal cachaças like Abelha and Cabana, or some sagatiba brands, while 51 and Pitu, present in Europe, are industrialized ones we prefer to call “caninha”. Great Job with these drinks, I am proud to see this! thanks a lot!

  13. C Benz C Benz says:

    This has been an interesting read. So far, the only 2 Cachacas I’ve tried ahve been Leblon and 51. Of the two, I prefer the Leblon BY FAR. I’m open to suggestions on others to try. I’ve also been known to muddle in fresh blackberries, cherries, and even watermelon with mine when the fruit is available. Tasty. Someday I’ll have one at Copacabana.

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