Signature Cocktail

Caipirinha: Brazil’s Sophisticated Twist on the Margarita

My Brazilian friend Shirlei introduced me to caipirinhas, (pronounced ky-per-EEN-ya) and I have to say it is one of my favorite cocktails. I say this because I have never experienced even a hint of a hangover after a night of enjoying them. My theory: the use of whole fresh limes, including the peels which are muddled and then soak in the drink, have some sort of beneficial effect. Perhaps the dose of vitamin C counteracts alcohol’s negative effects? Who knows! Regardless, these cocktails offer up super flavor, resulting in an enlivened and uplifted state. Think of it as “the happy drink.”

Finding a lot of inexpensive limes can be a challenge. When I hosted this party a few years back, I was trekking Manhattan groceries and fruit stands to no avail, then ended up at an Asian market—and somehow convinced the owner to order a case of limes for me for the party, which completely filled my kitchen sink, and added to the super-festive tropical vibe.

I have been schooled properly, by many Brazilian teachers on the making of this lively cocktail. See the recipe, with this post for the steps to creating the perfect caipirinha. And get hooked on them! Also, try using passion fruit instead of limes in the caipirinha for a super tart/sweet combo.

DETAILS ON THE INGREDIENTS:

[1] Novo Fogo Organic Cachaça This aged cachaça can be described in one word: smooth. It blends so perfectly in the caipirinha that you might think there was no alcohol in the drink. Warn your guests when serving these!

Novo Fogo, which means “new fire” in Portuguese, is made in the coastal mountains of Southern Brazil, bordering a protected rainforest. Each process of creating this spirit is done by hand, from the harvesting of the sugarcane to the small-batch copper pot still distillation. Glass removed from city streets gets cleaned, pulverized, and reshaped into the bottle’s sexy silhouette, by artisans who sign and label each batch. About $34. novofogo.com

[2] Santa Cruz Organic Limeade When you are making lots and lots of caipirinhas, it’s OK to cheat a little. Add a splash limeade to each drink to stretch them.

[3] Teak Stirrer Set Made from discarded pieces from the logging industry, these teak stirrers would look adorable in your tropical cocktails. 6.5 inches long. $25 for set of 4. Available online at abchome.com

[4] Modern Mixologist Muddler This hand-crafted, solid cherry wood muddler does the job. Available online at themodernmixologist.com, Tony Abou-Ganim’s website. $18.

See more recipes for a hot and steamy Latin dance party in 07 A Latin Fiesta