The Perfect Caipirinha Recipe

First of all, if anyone tells you there is only one way to make to a caipirinha, or that there’s only one “real brazilian way”, it’s simply not true. Having travelled for months all over Brasil and drunk loads of caipirinhas, from the poshest hotel bars, to numerous Brasilian homes, to beach stands, to appalling lanchonetes (Brasilian version of a greasy spoon), I can confirm that the only consistent thing is that you get cachaça, lime, ice and sugar (or artificial sweetener) in a glass. Beyond that, it’s all a lottery. The drink is so ubiquitous and varied, that it’s like claiming there is only one way to make mulled wine, or a hot toddy.

Nonetheless, there are better and worse ways. We base our recipe on the following:

Consistency – is incredibly important for pleasing people, and learning the craft of making drinks.
Hassle factor – ingredients that are easily available, and a quick, easy method
Taste – striking a good balance between strength, flavour and taste

Ingredients (per drink)

Method

Cut the lime into quarters. If you can be bothered, cut out the white core of the lime – it’s bitter. Cut the corners into smaller bits, and put half a limes worth in the tumbler glass.

Add 2 heaped teaspoons of castor sugar. We use castor sugar because it dissolves consistently, rather than half-dissolving and sitting in the bottom of the glass, leaving the sweetness unpredictable. Same reason we don’t use syrup – you can’t ensure the consistency of it – also for those making it at home, it saves you making syrup.

Muddle (squish) the limes. If you don’t have a muddler, here are some kitchen items that are good – a fixed gear rolling pin, a wine bottle upside down, the bottom of a small bottle – e.g. Worcester sauce.

If you have no suitable implement, squeeze the juice out of the lime bits with your fingers as you add them. it’s vital that you get all the juice out the lime bits.

Crush some ice. How you crush your ice is very very important to how your drink comes out. This is because the finer the ice, the faster it melts, and the more dilute the drink. Not fine enough, and the drink tastes too strong.

If you don’t have an ice crusher, I recommend wrapping ice cubes in a tea towel and smashing them hard about 10 times on a hard wall or floor. When you are done, there should be a little bit of ‘snow’. Fill the glass 3/4 full with this crushed ice.

Pour a 50ml shot of Abelha Cachaça over the ice. This is starting to look real good.

Take a cocktail stirrer (or the back of a fork, or a chopstick), place your left palm over the glass, leaving space where your thumb nook is to insert the stirrer, and mix it. Don’t stir, it’s more like whisking. If you use crushed ice, and muddle well, there is no need to use a cocktail shaker to make a caipirinha.

Top the glass up with ice, un-crushed or crushed, and stick a straw in it. You are done.

Edit: here is an excellent instructional video which we made last year after perhaps sampling too much of our own cachaça:

How to make a caipirinha cocktail from Abelha Cachaca on Vimeo.