The caipirinha is a religion. We hold as articles of faith how the limes should be chopped, how the ice should be crushed, etc., and these beliefs are handed down from one believer to the next, from reveler to reveler, generation to generation. There are denominations and sub-denominations, lapsed believers and absolutists.
What has been missing until now is an infallible written reference on caipirinha preparation. As the author of the most important and possibly only website on the internet, as a guy who has spent years drinking with the snobbiest of Brazilian tipplers, as a prophet just short an S, I descend among you with these set-in-stone truths.
Behold, the laws of the Orixás of cachaça, the Nossa Senhora of Brazilian sweetness, the Kardec of the fruity boozing — here is how you shall henceforth make the world’s greatest cocktail.
The Orthodox Caipirinha
- A good knife
- A clear glass tumbler, chilled
- A ripe, juicy lime, well-washed
- White powdered sugar
- Ice cubes
- High-end cachaça (the Brazilian sugar-cane liquor — NOT rum, NEVER rum)
- A short straw
1. Chop off each end of the lime. You will mostly be removing skin from these ends. Then cut the lime in half, lengthwise. Remove the pith (the white part at the center); it is said to make the caipirinha taste bitter. It doesn’t matter if this is true, my children, we take it on faith. Chop each lime half into four pieces; you will have eight total pieces of lime. Place them in the tumbler and crush them a bit with your muddler (the wooden, pestle-like tool pictured below).
2. Add in an obscenely large few scoops of sugar. Brazilians need things sweet.
3. Take an ice cube in your hand give it a hard whack with your muddler. Don’t over-crush the ice, as it will melt too fast and weaken the drink. And several such crushed ice cubes to the tumbler.
4. Add cachaça to fill the glass and stir. Yes, this makes for a strong drink; it has been ordained that we Pilgrims shall be Tipsy.
5. The straw is essential; Brazilians consider drinking cocktails (or even a can of beer) without a straw to be unhygienic. Even men always use them.
6. If the drink is for a Brazilian, serve with a spoon and extra sugar so that the drink can be further sweetened.
This article is set to form part of a series on caipirinhas; we also have coverage of general drinking in Brazil.
Readers’ heresy on caipirinha preparation will be tolerated in the comments.
Thanks for reading our treatises on cross-cultural boozing and boinking. On rare occasions, this site contains automatically monetized affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Caipirinha is not very sweet. I know that to be true, because every time I had it, I had to ask the bartender to add extra sugar; I like it very sweet. Also, if I am not mistaken (or at least in the US) it should be “superfine” sugar. Sugar in Brazil is very, very fine and the only similar I found in the US is the “superfine.” Everyone I have ever seen prepare it–from bartenders to friends–make Caipirinha by simply chopping up whole limes and dropping them inside a large wood version of a mortar and pestle, having sprinkled sugar beforehand. Then they pour the cachaça and work the limes, quickly. My older brother, who lives in Rio–as do all my siblings–brought me one of these mortars, together with a bottle of cachaça the last time he visited us. Making Caipirinha is very simple and quick.
“Brazilians consider drinking cocktails (or even a can of beer) without a straw to be unhygienic”?!
I dare you to find anyone drinking beer from a can – or any other container – with a straw as a normal procedure. Beer is drunk either straight from the can, or (the civilised way) from a glass (if possible not a plastic cup, and cups made from paper or styrofoam are very seldom used for beer).
With all due respect, that’s just not true of anywhere I’ve been in Brazil! (Rio, Sampa, Floripa, etc…)
I have been (and partied) in all these cities (I lived in São Paulo, was born and raised in Santa Catarina and visited Rio a few times) and I have never seen a single human being drink a beer can with a straw.
At best one’ll clean the can top a bit with a napkin or your shirt. In fact, you can find a few examples of people being mocked for drinking beer with a straw on the Internet: it’s rare enough that Brazilians make videos titled “BEER WITH A STRAW!!!!!”.