Caipirinha is a traditional Brazilian cocktail made with Cachaca liquor, limes and sugar. Three simple ingredients is all it takes to make this refreshing, sweet cocktail! Prepared properly, this is a super smooth cocktail that’s perfect for sipping on in hot weather.
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What is Caipirinha
So, what’s a caipirinha? Caipirinha (kai-per-EE-nyuh) is a traditional cocktail in Brazil. You can enjoy it in most Brazilian steakhouses across the states, as well as in many restaurants and bars. Although, unless I am at an authentic Brazilian restaurant, I have to ask how they prepare their Caipirinha because it’s very easy to not get right!
If it’s not prepared correctly, you won’t be drinking a sweet and refreshing cocktail, but straight up Cachaca instead. And trust me – that’s not as pleasant as it might seem. Cachaca is a Brazilian spirit comparable to rum but it’s not at all sweet. It’s made out of cane juice pressed from the raw sugarcane stalks. The juice is then fermented and distilled into rum-like spirit.
Because the cachaca is made with raw sugarcane juice that hasn’t been processed into molasses (like rum), it’s got more of an herb/plant like taste that’s not sweet. Caipirinha should be made with a good amount of sugar to balance out the strong taste of the liquor. Muddling lime and sugar until sugar melts releases all the aromatic juices and oils from the lime to infuse this cocktail with great flavors.
Cachaca – Since this cocktail has a very high liquor to other ingredients ratio, choose a better brand of Cachaca. Using better liquor will make a world of difference in this cocktail.
Lime – Use ripe limes to get the most juice out of them.
Sugar – The best sugar to use is raw sugar, also known as turbinado. The downside to using raw sugar is that it takes a little longer to melt, so you would need to muddle the limes and sugar for a longer period of time. You can substitute brown sugar or super fine sugar but in a slightly smaller amount.
See the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and instructions.
How to Make a Caipirinha
Muddle. Slice lime into slices or small chunks and add it to the glass. Add sugar and muddle, muddle, muddle (1)! The goal is to make sure sugar is melted before adding Cachaca.
PRO TIP: Use room temperature limes so the juices melt sugar faster.
Add ice and cachaca. Add ice cubes almost to the top and and pour in cachaca (3).
Mix it up. Use another larger glass (or a shaker) to pour the mixture back and forth a couple of times to mix.
Cachaca (pronounced kah-SHAH-sah in Brazil) is a Brazilian “rum-like” spirit that is made from pure raw sugar cane. The process involves sugar cane juice pressed from the raw sugarcane stalks. The juice is then fermented and distilled into rum-like spirit.
Because the cachaca is made with raw sugarcane juice that hasn’t been processed into molasses (like rum), it’s got more of an herb/plant like taste that’s not sweet.
Technically yes. The flavor won’t be the same if using white granulated or brown sugar, but those can be substituted. Just note that turbinado is a larger grain than white granulated or brown sugar, so use a little less if going with either of those options.
Yes, the caipirinha does taste strong, but if the balance of lime and sugar is just right then it’s super smooth. Remember, you can use 1.5-2 tablespoons of turbinado per personal taste. So the main idea is to get a good balance between lime and sugar to get a smooth cocktail.
More Cocktail Recipes to Try
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- 1 lime
- 1 1/2-2 tbsp raw sugar (turbinado) (If substituting brown sugar or super fine sugar, use less)
- 3 oz Cachaca
- Use room temperature limes so the juices melt sugar faster. Slice lime into slices or small chunks and add it to the glass.
- Add sugar and muddle, muddle, muddle! The goal is to make sure sugar is melted before adding Cachaca.
- Add ice cubes almost to the top and and pour in Cachaca.
- Use another larger glass (or a shaker) to pour the mixture back and forth a couple of times to mix.
- Is Cachaca gluten free? – most cachaca spirit is made with pure raw sugar cane and not additives, it is naturally gluten free. Although, there are brands that may have additives in it. Always check the brand and check their website for confirmation.
- Muddler – use a flat end muddler to muddle mint. When working with herbs, choose a muddler without ridges and one that is not lacquered. If you don’t have a muddler, use a small wooden spoon or a wooden utensil handle with a flat end.
- Limes – use ripe, room temperature limes so the juices melt sugar faster.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles in July 2019.