You probably heard or even tried some (many) caipirinhas – the traditional Brazilian drink made with cachaça, sugar and limes – already at some point in your life.
A very popular cocktail in Europe as well, it’s known the drink has its origin linked with the origin of cachaça itself (a kind of rum made of sugarcane), back to 18th century. We like thinking it was invented by black slaves that used to work in many of Brazilian sugar mills that period.
They liked to combine some fruits with cachaça and obviously, put a bit of sugar on it.
The original recipe takes lime/lemon as an ingredient but you can use your imagination and plenty of other fruits to create your own caipirinha. Some of them are made of red fruit such as strawberries and any other kinds of berries, actually. Pineapple, passion fruit and even Kiwi is a good option to a perfect Caipifruit.
The most exotic one is made of Sake (the Japanese wine) and kiwis. The Caipisake or Sakerita can be easily found in any good Japanese restaurants in Brazil.
Another much-respected version of the Brazilian drink is made with vodka (just in case it’s not that easy to find some cachaça in your city) and it’s called caipiroska. This is also very popular in Brazil for being considered “milder” than caipirinha, if you know what I mean.
Brazil, we usually drink caipirinha in the summertime but if the weather is fine, it’s always an excuse to ask for it. The traditional one costs around 8-10 Reais (around £ 4-5) but depending where you get it the price can be a bit spicier! It goes perfectly with another Brazilian classic called feijoada – a slow-cooked pork and black beans stew.
I had a very special one for 25 Reais ( £ 7) once at the top of Italian Building, in São Paulo. This one you can see in the first picture of this article.
To be honest, I couldn’t complain about the quality of the drink or the view from the beautiful city’s skyline we can get there. But the price is as high as the building itself. Anyway, it’s refreshing, inviting and a very strong drink, so don’t fool yourself thinking you can handle easily more than 3 or 4 caipirinhas. Well, if you do, congrats.
You’re definitely a pro! There are plenty of types of cachaças made in several parts of Brazil and the crafted ones have the best quality indeed.
According to statistics, around 1.3 billion litres of cachaça is produced per year in Brazil, with about 75% of this total coming from manufactured industry and 25% from homemade factories.
Luckily, this spirit is also exported to some countries already and the main buyer nowadays is Germany.
Unfortunately, only 1% of the production is for export but it’s quite common to find some bars pubs and restaurants offering a good selection of caipirinhas in the UK, anyway.
The average price of a caipirinha here is around £ 5 and sometimes cheaper than this in some special deals sometimes.
Where to find: There’s nothing more exciting than finding a menu with caipirinha included when you’re abroad. London has very popular Brazilian restaurants such as Made in Brasil, in Camden Town, who offers one of the best caipirinhas ever and here in Birmingham, places like Las Iguanas, Bodega and even some pub, such as Rose Villa Tavern, cater the popular cocktail as well.
Not to mention the two new Brazilian restaurants recently open here that certainly have a range of options.
The recipe: There is no major secret to prepare a traditional caipirinha. You only need a good shot of cachaça (75ml, for example), 1\2 lime or lemon, 2 teaspoons of caster sugar and some crushed ice. Even some famous chef like Jamie Oliver has its own version of the drink.
Just Google, check and prepare it if you fancy the challenger. As famous as our football squad, samba and carnival, caipirinha has become very popular around the world and it definitely represents better the spirit, taste and flavour of Brazil. Cheers!
Published September 14th, 2012 here.