Recipe for a Caipirinha Cocktail - the Famous Cachaca Drink From Brazil


Introduction: Recipe for a Caipirinha Cocktail - the Famous Cachaca Drink From Brazil

My version of the Caipirinha cocktail: delightfully refreshing and powerfully alcoholic drink based on cachaca.

Step 1: Some Information, Ingredient List and Required Tools

Caipirinha (k-eye-per-reen-yah) is the name of the drink: Cachaca (kashasah) is the name of the alcoholic spirit/liquor used in the drink. Cachaca is a Brazilian distilled liquor that starts from unaldulterated sugarcane juice (unlike rum, which is made from what is left over after the main sugar removal process).

In Ontario, Canada I have only seen the Pitu brand of cachaca available.

This version of the Caipirinha uses limes. (The only other fruit I have made it with is lemons - so far). I am indebted to Markus in Germany who introduced me to this wonderful cocktail.

You will need:
  • a jigger for measuring (I cannot be held responsible for anyone "free handing")
  • cachaca
  • lime(s)
  • teaspoon measure
  • coarse sugar
  • ice cubes
  • muddler, aka pestle aka "mashing stick"
  • short, wide glass(es) (Old Fashioned type)
  • sharp knife and cutting board
  • short straw(s)

Step 2: Rinse and Dry the Limes

Start by rinsing and drying the lime(s). (I'm not usually drinking alone so I wash several.)[[BR]]
Since you do not remove the rinds from the drink, the skin should be clean - at least peel the fruit stickers off![[BR]]
(BTW, I'm taking the photographs while Mrs. Caipirinha does the actual work here.)

Step 3: Remove Some of the Rind

Remove the thicker rind top and bottom ends and any unsightly blemishes.

Step 4: Pith Removal

Half the limes with a knife and cut a "V" groove to remove the center pithy part from each half. (You don't want her/him to complain their drink is full of pith!)

Step 5: Cut Into Small Pieces

Slice each lime half into 8 pieces

Step 6: Place Pieces in Glass

Depending on the size of the lime, its juiciness and your serving size, place 1/2 to all of the lime into a short, wide glass. I don't recommend a tall tumbler since you are going to "get a little rough" with the lime pieces soon and need room to mash.

Step 7: Add Coarse Sugar

Add 3 teaspoons of coarse sugar. Here I usually use 1 teaspoon of coarse (to aid grinding the limes) and 2 teaspoons of ordinary granular sugar (to hasten dissolving/sweetening - plus I'm cheap).

Step 8: Muddle (what a Great Word!)

Muddle, grind, pulverize, mash those lime pieces right in the glass with a "mashing stick". During the early days I used a "wooden thing in the drawer" that turned out to be a tart shell pastry shaper. Now, thanks to my daughter who returned from Germany with an official Pitu brand muddler, I can mash and muddle with the best of them. This wooden device has a nice handle and knurled bottom face.[[BR]]
What you find to mash with is obviously up to you but the purpose is to get the juice out of the lime pieces and at the same time release some of the sour citrus oil from the rind. Leave it all in the glass.

Step 9: Crushed Ice

Now you'll need finely crushed ice. For those schmucks that don't have an automatic machine (like me), here's what I find efficient: a thick plastic bag and a hammer.[[BR]]
Place 4 large ice cubes into a thick plastic bag. In Ontario, our milk comes in bags perfectly sized for this. Let the air out of the bag and on a flat surface, whack the ice/bag with a hammer to get very small ice pieces/water. The hammer held by the young lady is a meat tenderizer and the flat side works great.

Step 10: Add Ice to the Glass

Now simply pick up the bag and pour ice contents into the glass. You can avoid dumping half the ice on the counter by holding the bag's open end to form a smaller exit hole and shake the closed end.

Step 11: Add More Sugar and the Cachaça

Add a final teaspoon of coarse sugar and pour 1 to 2 ounces of cachaça over the ice

Step 12: Add a Straw and Stir

Serve with a short straw (bendy type or whatever you have, but a straw is important).[[BR]]

Now sip on that. Mmmmmm... You get the semi-sour drink along with crunchy sugar. Try to sip slowly!

Step 13: The Environmentally Friendly Drink!

When you get to the bottom and begin making disgusting slurp noises, remove the straw and tip the glass up to get every last drop, toss the lime remnants into the composter and repeat!

Step 14: Cheers!

There are some who will balk at the complexity/time of preparation. To those I would say stick to your mass produced, artificially coloured and flavoured liquids where you simply "snap a cap". This drink is about standing around the kitchen, yacking, savouring its taste and is sibling to the "Slow Food" movement.

Warning: This drink is "stealthy". Think about it: sour, unconcentrated lime juice hides the alcohol taste, the sweet (and crunchy!) sugar also hides the alcohol taste and finally super-cooling with finely crushed ice tends to hide the alcohol taste. Use responsibly between consenting adults. The Caipirinha is in a class of drinks called a "leg spreader" - because it makes you really relaxed - and you go all limp - I guess.

I welcome your comments, variation descriptions and experimental suggestions.

OH!... and much thanks to Mrs. Caipirinha for the outstanding work she did.



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53 Discussions

so a caipriniha can be made w/any fruit or liquor, and still be called a caipriniha unlike a marguerita has to have tequila, or some drinks have to have an authentic Martini, unless it is a vodka martini, a Harvey Wallbanger is orange juice and Galiano... made with vodka it is a screwdriver.... or a brandy alexander should use brandy... or those drinks made w/rum that have different names depending on the mixers.... what is in a name..... as once stated "a rose by any other name is still a rose"

1 reply

No, it must be made from cachaca. For example, when made with vodka it is called a "Caipiroska". I think any sour citrus can make up the fruit part though and there is always a discussion of what a lemon or lime actually describes and it depends on the country you are in.

I haven't had a chance to make the drink yet but wanted to say thanks. That is an outstanding shirt to instructable in.

I am doing New Years Eve. When trying this in Portugal it was made in a large jug and then poured. The lady in this article is well qualified to make this. Beware, the Brazilians drink this at carnival, We ended up skinny dipping in our villa, inhibitions are lowered, looking forward to New Years eve.

Helo my dear !!
I am brazilan and speak a little english, but, i want help you , about the caipirinha, any fruit cítrica is poossible to make a caipirinha ok???
thanks my dears.

Although this traditional caipirinha recipe is pretty delicious and I do try it all the time, sometimes I get tired of lime. I have been mixing a lot of different variations of caipirinha lately. Using different liquors like vodka and even sake. I've also been testing out different types of fruits. I've found some nice recipes here:

I'm still looking for a good cachaça brand though, since pitu and 51 are really considered low grade in Brazil.

First drink happiness,second dancing samba,third speak portuguese,fourth dancing samba without music,fifth u come back to neighbours home...cachaca is a perfect apperitif

1: Grinding is intended and the point of the muddling. Some people prefer it without grinding, but the original recipe calls for grinding (therefore coarse sugar).

2: Please, please, in the name of Dionysus, it's lemon, not lime. Stop spreading this misconception :-) it's born of mistranslation and ignorance. The proper taste comes from chemical reaction between the citric acid and the sugar, and limes just don't have enough acid for that to happen (which is why many people don't see the point of muddling).

Don't get me wrong, lime "caipirinha" is a tasty drink, and so is caipirissima, caipiroska, and many other variations; but they're not "real" caipirinha, just similar drinks.

11 replies

I am really confused by you guys' exchange. You say that it isn't limes, but lemons, and then you say that it is actually persian limes...
Persian limes are the most common fruit sold as limes in North America, with key limes coming in second. It looks to me like that is a persian lime on the cutting board of the picture. Am I missing something?

Lime is Limão in english. Lemon is Lima in portuguese. This confusion is common. Lime is green, lemon is yellow. Limão é verde e lima é amarela...

Lime is lima in English. Lemon is limão in Portuguese. Your confusion is common. The source of the confusion is one single specific species, the Persian Lime, which in Portuguese is called a limão. Every other species of lime is called lima in Portuguese, every other species of limão is called lemon in English. Please do some research before spreading misconceptions.

Lalo, may be in Portugal, but in Brasil, Persian Lime is known in Brasil as Lima da Pérsia, Limão is green in Brasil and in english the green fruit is called lime. Please, look at my blog where you will see several videos from Youtube where people name those fruits accordingly. Thanks for noting that in other portuguese speaking places there can be differences.

I'm Brazilian, I've never set foot in Portugal. Persian lime is known in Brazil as limão taiti. I've never heard of “lima da Pérsia”. The fact that you have a blog doesn't mean you have facts... again, please do some research before you spread misconceptions.

Also, I've said it twice already and you're ignoring it: every other species of lime is called lima. Every known species of lemon is called limão. Every other species of limão is called lemon. Every known species of lima is called lime.

Espero que tenha gostado do meu comentário colocado abaixo onde consegui tirar suas dúvidas sobre as diferenças entre lima da persia, limão taití, e lima. Um abraço!

Não vejo comentário abaixo, e eu não tenho dúvida nenhuma pra tirar, não sei de onde você tirou essa “informação” toda...

Na verdade também é conhecido por limão siciliano... Nomes populares... quem sabe
It's also known as sicilian lemon... Popular names... who knows...

Actually man, The lemons make the drink wayy too bitter. The best way to do it would be to peel off a lime, then slice it and crush it with a pestle. And the real one uses limes, but in brazil, we call them "Limão" and what you guys call lemons we call "Lima".

The lemons make the drink as bitter as it's supposed to be, since the drink is made with lemons and not limes. If it's too bitter, you're not using the right amount of sugar, or cachaça, or not doing it correctly.

The story of “limão” being limes and vice-versa is a misunderstanding that I'd like to see dead. There are many kinds of “limão” which are used for cachaça, and most of them are lemons. The most common one, the “limão taiti”, is known in English as a “persian lime”; if you can find that where you live, absolutely go for it. But open it up and taste it; it tastes like a lemon, not like a (key) lime. The most common kind of lime is the key lime, and that's called a “lima” in Brazil. In fact, there's no kind of “lima” that is called a lemon in English; they're all limes. The only kind where there is any confusion is the taiti/persian lime, and that's not usually found in the Northern hemisphere apart from the Middle East.

tl;dr: no, “limão” is not lime, not in general. The right ingredient is, in order of tasting best to worse: persian lime, lemon (any kind), lime (not persian).

Lalo, you are correct, limão is not lime. But my point is to make sure people do not mistake lime and lemon, as in portuguese we use lime (Citrus latifolia (yu. tanaka) tanaka ) to make caipirinhas. And we usually use the word lima to name Citrus xlimon that is called lemon in english.
check these links:
Citrus xlimon (lima)

Citrus latifolia (yu. tanaka) tanaka (limão taití)

Citrus aurantifolia (lima da pérsia)