Caipirinha Cocktail

By Robert Hess

Cachaça is the national spirit of Brazil. From that spirit comes the national cocktail of Brazil, the Caipirinha. Our intrepid host will show you how to make the Caipirinha.

Recipe

Caipirinha

2 ounces cachaça

2 Tbs. sugar

1/2 lime, quartered



If cachaça is not available in your area, you can substitute a good white rum.

Instructions

Wash the lime, and cut it into quarters.

Put the lime pieces into a heavy tumbler and then add the sugar.

Muddle hard to extract juices and dissolve the sugar.

Fill the glass with ice, then add the cachaça. Stir to mix and chill.

Comments
Matt Lefevere 14 Aug 2007
11:40 am

Thanks for the great videos, Robert!  I love this drink as it has so many possible variations.  I’ve made a delicious Caipiroska using limes, brown sugar and Absolut Citron vodka.  What brands of Cachaca do you recommend?

Robert Hess 16 Aug 2007
10:09 pm

Matt,

One of the problems with Cachaca brands across the country (US) is that sometimes beggers can’t be choosers. Here in Washington State, finding any Cachaca in the liquor stores is often a hit-or-miss opportunity.

Sagatiba is a brand that is starting to make some pretty good inroads, and I think it works quite well. But Boca Loca, and Leblon are also good, with each of them having some fairly different characteristics.

One of the things that I always recommend to anybody who is trying to zero in on the “right” spirits to use, is to simply pick “a” spirit to start with, and make the drinks that they know which use that spirit, and when the bottle starts to get empty, pick up a “different” brand to replace it with, and do a taste comparison between the old and the new (both sipped straight, as well as in the “drink of choice”). This will help you get a better handle over the characteristics of the spirit, as well as which of those characters you seem to favor.

-Robert

Brian 4 Oct 2007
1:53 am

The “ch” in cacha

Robert Hess 5 Oct 2007
11:13 am

Thanks Brian, I try to remember to use “sh” instead of “ch”... but sometimes the visualization of the word overtakes my linquistic skills. I sometimes forget and say “mar-a-shee-no” instead of “mar-a-skee-no” as well…

Chris 8 Oct 2007
3:07 pm

What about tools for cutting fruit?  I am terrible at making twists.  It looks like you have a cool gadget you use.  Any advice?
Thanks
Chris

Robert Hess 8 Oct 2007
4:44 pm

For cutting think curls of citrus for twists and such, it is common to use what is known as a “Channel Knife”. The knife usually has a small v-shaped wedge sticking out of it which can slice out a thin string of peel. With a little practice you can spirial cut the peel off an entire fruit in one long piece, without leaving hardly any colored skin on the fruit itself. Of course a spiral that long is almost worthless as a cocktail garnish intact.

For cutting larger slices of peel, like I would for a drink such as the Old Fashioned, I use a common vegetable/potato peeler. Then once the peel is cut, I square off the ends and edges with a normal knife to create a long rectangular peel.

Steve 19 Nov 2007
12:17 pm

Any suggestions on where to find the smaller glasses?  The smallest I can find is 7oz and I would really like to find something around 4 oz.  Thanks!

Robert Hess 19 Nov 2007
1:23 pm

I periodically find smaller glasses at places like Pier 1 Imports, or Cost Plus. Many common glass manufacturers make smaller glasses, but they usually sell them only through restaurant supply stores. Check to see if there is a restaurant supply store near you and see what they might have to offer. Note that you’ll probably have to buy a full case (12+)

Another option is to check out antique shops, you can often find some lovely glasses there.

Scott 14 Jan 2008
2:53 pm

Robert,

First off, thank you for your wonderful videos. Your passion for “crafting” a drink rather than just mixing one is a breath of fresh air. It’s unfortunate that so many people treat the craft of bartending with such blatant disregard when they are standing behind the bar. I make it a priority to keep traditional cocktail techniques alive behind my bar while also trying to employ the newest products off the market. I look forward to staying tuned into your shows, but as a collector of bar paraphrenalia I must ask for more information regarding that beautiful Hawthorne strainer with the huge, tightly wound coil that sits in the pint glass on your bartop in every show. Is it antique/vintage enough to where I won’t be able to find one or can you guide me to where I might be able to obtain one? Thank you so much.

Cheers,
Scott

Robert Hess 14 Jan 2008
5:11 pm

Scott,

Yeah, I’m such a tease. :->

I picked that strainer up many years ago from an austrian bar/hotel supply company, I rarely use it, partially because it is so beautiful, and partially because the springs in it are so big and loose that it doesn’t work well in any of my mixing glasses.

However… you are in luck.

A good friend of mine, David “Mr. Mojito” Nepov, recently started selling some strainers very simliar to this on his site (www.MisterMojito.com). He has both a silver version (http://www.mistermojito.com/shaker-set-silver.php), as well as a less expensive one made out of stainless steel (http://www.mistermojito.com/strainer-stainless-steel.php), both of which fit wonderfully in the Mixing glass he sells as well (http://www.mistermojito.com/mixing-glass-with-lip.php).

Tell him you heard about it here :->
-Robert

Jim Kay 10 Feb 2008
4:40 pm

Thanks for these episodes. I used the lessons learned from the Cairipinha to do a little guerilla bartending last night. The “bar” at a charitable event was stocked with blended scotch, vodka, wine, beer some OJ and sodas. I muddled some lime garnish with a packet of sugar from the coffee service (a long neck Bud makes a passable muddler) than added some ice and vodka. All of this in a wine glass. Not precise, but a much better drink than I would have had otherwise. With knowledge comes power - thanks

Rob 12 Dec 2008
6:33 pm

Robert,
Thank you for talking about what is needed as far as tools go. I am starting my own bar at home and was not sure as to what tools were needed. I have watched other podcasts and they don’t really talk about the tools they they use in detail, only that they are using them to make a particular drink. I was looking for the jigger that you use. I went looking online and i could not find it do you have any suggestions?

Robert Hess 13 Dec 2008
4:38 am

Rob, what I am using is the “OXO Mini Angled Measuring Cup” searching for that specifically will come up with more options than you can possibly use, but here is a link to it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002YTGQ8

You should also be able to find it in almost any decently stocked kitchen store. Usually they have it where they have the measuring cups and not bar supplies.

-Robert

Al 15 Jan 2009
6:36 am

Robert,

I enjoyed your video and learned a few things as well and for that I thank you.  One step that I do differently when making Caipirinhas, which I feel makes a better cocktail, is adding the cachaca to the muddle prior to adding the ice.  This allows the cachaca to better combine with the lime and sugar (dissolving the sugar somewhat).  So simply add the cachaca to the muddled lime and sugar, stir this gently- or swirl to combine and add the ice on top.  As one of your previous posters pointed out, if you have crushed ice then add this to the top and “snow cone” the glass.  Use a bonzer spoon to pull the limes and cachaca from the bottom of the glass up into the ice.

Best,  Al

LexM 1 Apr 2009
9:02 am

Late to the party, alas. I do have one question, though: Why does the Caipirinha recipe in the episode differ so markedly in sugar and lime content from the recipe on the Drinkboy website (http://www.drinkboy.com/Cocktails/Recipe.aspx?itemid=33)?

Robert Hess 1 Apr 2009
9:45 am

What? I have no idea what you are talking about. They look the same to me.

:->

(I’ve been meaning to fix that for a while… thanks for reminding me)

Robert Hess 1 Apr 2009
9:48 am

Al, (hmmm missed your comment earlier)...

Adding the cachaca before adding the ice is perfectly fine, and would work as you describe. This is what would be referred to as a “precision” to making a Caipirina, and while not required to make it properly, does provide a useful technique.

You can read more about “Precisions” in my essay here:
http://www.drinkboy.com/Articles/Article.aspx?itemid=35

-Robert

Halden Doerge 12 Jul 2009
9:13 pm

I realize this thread is old, but I have a question. The recipe from your book seems to differ from what you have in this video. The book lists using one whole lime and one tsp of sugar rather than half a lime and 2 tbs of sugar. Which is your current preference?

Thanks much!

-Halden

Lawrence Spies 19 Aug 2009
3:35 am

This drink should be shaken not stirred!! Then served unstrained into rocks/old fashioned glass(I use 9oz rocks)...My favorite Cachaca is Fazenda Mae De Ouro…Great stuff!!

Robert Hess 19 Aug 2009
5:23 am

Lawrence, While you can make a Caipirinha “shaken”, this was not the original, nor traditional way it is done. I personally prefer the muddled method shown in this video because it adds some extra depth and richness to the drink from the skins of the lime, and is one aspect that makes this drink different from a Daiquiri. There are some very good Brazilian Cachacas, many of the better ones aren’t even being exported.

Lawrence Spies 19 Aug 2009
10:22 am

No offense meant and I should have worded it better…Your muddle method is perfect, its the shaken over stirred part is what I was talking about…shaken is much better and the way I learned from “Cachaca Dave” at http://www.caipirinha.us/

Stirring a Caipirinha with a glass full of ice and lime wedges does not mix the drink very well, shaken how ever will mix the drink very well and assure the sugar is dissolved. Traditional? Original? but much better IMHO.

Cachaca is Fazenda Mae De Ouro is in the states, if you want a bottle, drop me a line, I will send you one!  also I love to see that you are showing drinks made with Canton Ginger! I was just introduced to this wonderful elixir and kill a bottle over a weeks time! and if you add a 3/4 oz shot or more of Ginger Liqueur to a Caipirinha it adds a nice flavor profile!

leigh 21 Sep 2009
2:08 pm

hey robert, i was wondering who makes the best under bar equipment?

Robert Hess 21 Sep 2009
2:28 pm

Leigh, a lot depends on where you are, what your bar design is, how much you want to spend, etc. But personally I’ve always been a little facinated by the “Calabrese Sink” made by Cantilever Bar Systems in the UK.

The most important step however is simply to think smartly about your layout behind the bar, the fairly normal/standard stainless steel sinks etc do a fine job, and can do a GREAT job when laid out properly.

-Robert

Nik 6 Nov 2009
12:42 pm

Robert,

I was wondering where you got the heavy duty bar spoon you mentioned early in the video.  I was watching a bit you did with Jamie Boudreau and he hand cracks ice and I remember you making a specific comment on his heavy duty spoon and to me it looked similar to the one you talk about in this video.  I was wondering where I could find a spoon like that specifically for hand cracking bigger ice cubes. 

Thanks,
Nik

Robert Hess 6 Nov 2009
1:13 pm

Nik, That particular spoon is one I got from APS in Europe many years ago. As I indicate in the video many of these superior quality European bar tools aren’t yet available in the US, although gradually things ARE changing. You can find some great tools over at CocktailKingdom.com, as well as MisterMojito.com.

On Mister Mojito’s site, you can find a spoon “similar” to the one I was using in the video above (http://www.mistermojito.com/spoon-pestle.php).

Kevin Kock 20 Nov 2009
12:27 pm

Dear Robert,
I have no Idea where to post this. but I have a great cocktail for you to make. please let me know where to send you the recepie. the cocktail is called Aruba’ariba (Up aruba)

-Kevin k.kock@fbparuba.com

Clint 23 Nov 2009
8:54 am

Hello Robert.

I really like Caipirinhas, so I always have a bottle of Cachaca in my cabinet. The problem is that I don’t really know of any other cocktails that use Cachaca as an ingredient. And having that one bottle of spirit that you use for just one single drink seems like such a waste. Now, since you said that Cachaca is essentially just a sort of rum, are there any cocktails where it would make sense to substitute the rum for Cachaca? I mean, I’m pretty sure I can’t just do that with any rum-based drink, can I?

Thanks in advance,
                        Clint

TheBalch 7 Oct 2012
12:58 am

Hey Mr. Hess, geeky question:

I see that Lawrence already mentioned that caipirinhas are sometimes shaken - this is what a friend of mine from Pernambuco does - although I’m sure that this is a modern development. Anyway, when he shakes it up, everything is together, including the fruit. In this case, could the caipirinha be considered a kind of “cachaça cobbler”? I’m just curious.

BTW, in case you’re interested, “caipirinha” means “little caipira;” a “caipira” is someone from the rural interior of Brazil. It’s kind of like saying “little hick,” actually.

Saude!

Clayton

TheBalch 7 Oct 2012
1:02 am

Oh, and if it’s any help, I’m told that a lot of Brazilians drink Pitú. It’s got what looks like a shrimp or crawdaddy on the label. Also, Brazilians don’t always make a caipirinha with cachaça, interestingly enough. My buddy Rodrigo prefers vodka! Maybe someone here would like to test out a gin caipirinha for us, huh?

Daz-Miguel Mora 12 Jun 2013
7:33 pm

Hello from Australia!!! Great work Robert.

After serving hundreds and thousands of Caipirinhas over 15 years I found that what is also important was educating the customer of “Cachaca” and what it is exactly.

Here in Australia Cachaca is slowly getting attention but since becoming the Brand Ambassador for “Saturno Premium Cachaca”, I have developed over 100 different cocktails mixers and shots with this one spirit proving its versatility among many other spirits - It also shows why it was (not sure as of today) the third most consumed spirit in the world (behind Rum and Vodka). The more premium Cachaca’s do not have additives and are close to organic as you can get which is great if you have vegetarians or health conscious drinkers. Using agave nectar is another alternative as its half the calories of sugar and requires only 15ml (one tablespoon).

There are over 5000 different brands of cachaca but to pick the best one is really up to your own palette. Some brands actually use different sugar cane from contracted farmers in different regions so there can be inconsistencies in the flavour. Minas Gerais has some of the best produced Cachaca and is famous for this. Industrialised cachaca (pinga) is usually aged for a month or so and its mass produced fast for high turnover thus having more vapour on the nose and its harshness is suited to mixing however handcrafted cachaca (Artesanal de Alambique) is copper pot distilled and rested in oak or other kinds of barrels for 3 or more months so it takes on the character and flavour from the barrel giving it a wonderful aroma on the nose. Perfect with freshly squeezed juiced and fresh produce.

If the Cachaca blends well with the ingredients the taste will not be overpowering but its character will be subtle and enjoyable.

A good cachaca is fantastic for infusing, and I have re created many drinks with it but more importantly I tell all my customers what it is - because so many make the big mistake thinking its RUM!

Saude (Cheers)

Zakhia 19 Dec 2013
12:26 pm

Just tried this and it blew me away (really) did not want to buy caahaca for a single drink so used barcadi white and it was excellent like a rustic daquiri meets a tom collins, and so beautiful to look at. I am certianly making more.

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