What is Caipirinha?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

The Brazilian national cocktail is known as Caipirinha. The drink is made from a combination of lime, sugar and Brazil's most popular distilled alcoholic beverage, known as Cachaça. The popular drink is also frequently served in the United States and Europe, and is considered to be similar to a daiquiri.

Fresh tangerine can be used to make Caipifruta.
Fresh tangerine can be used to make Caipifruta.

Caipirinha comes from the root word caipira, which means someone from the country. Many people would consider the term to be similar to the word hillbilly. Variations of the drink, such as Caipiroska, can be made by substituting various forms of alcohol, such as vodka, rather than the Cachaça that is traditionally used.

Some Caipirinha drinks contain up to 50% alcohol.
Some Caipirinha drinks contain up to 50% alcohol.

To make a Caipirinha cocktail, one can dust 2 teaspoons (200 mg) of sugar over four seeded and halved key limes. This combination should be muddled in the bottom of a shaker glass until the lime juice has spilled and the sugar is well dissolved. Cracked ice and 2 ounces (59 ml) of cachaça may then be added before shaking. The drink is then ready to pour and serve. A pitcher of the beverage can be made for large groups by multiplying the recipe according to the number of people present.

Up to half of the volume of Cachaça is alcohol. It is also known as Pinga, Caninha, and Aguardente. It is considered to be similar to rum, though made by fresh sugarcane juice rather than molasses. Caipirinha is considered an Official Cocktail of the International Bartenders Association, and has inspired many other sour cocktails from its basic recipe.

Here are some variations. If using rum in place of the Cachaça, the drink is called a Caipirissima. To make a Caipifruta, milk and fresh fruits, such as tangerine, pineapple, or mango, can be added. A Sakerinha is a version of the drink made with sake rice wine, while the use of black vodka as a liquor substitute will yield the drink known as Caipiroska Negra.

In Italy, Campari is used to make a version of the Caipirinha known as the CaipirItaly. A caipirinha is a version of the Caipirinha that contains other fruits besides limes. In Portugal, a popular version of the drink is known as the Caipirão.

Some Brazilian songs have been inspired by the alcohol Cachaça. These include "Moda de Pinga" and "Cachaça." The drink may also be used in cooking. Cachaça is frequently utilized in flambeing bananas and other foods as well as cooking meats. Some people like to add it to sweet drinks, such as hot chocolate or coffee.

The ingredients of caipirinha will be added to a cocktail shaker before being served.
The ingredients of caipirinha will be added to a cocktail shaker before being served.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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