Brazil (1750s, give or take)
When it’s too hot to spend more than a minute making a drink, the Caipirinha comes to the rescue (say it “kai-peer-EENyuh”). It’s the national drink of Brazil, made with cachaça (“kah-SHAH-sah”), a sugar-cane spirit much like the rhum agricole they make on Martinique and the other islands of the French West Indies. Where most rums are made from molasses, cachaça and rhum agricole are made directly from pressed fresh sugar cane, so you get all kinds of interesting vegetal, earthy flavors and aromas that aren’t there in rum.
The Portuguese word “caipirinha” means “hillbilly,” and from that you can guess the nature of this drink: a little rough, a little rustic. But so simple and delicious – for those who’ve never tried one, I say it’s halfway between a Margarita and a Daiquiri and they’re sold. Once you’ve made it the original way with lime, anything goes for the muddled fruit: pineapple, guava, tangerine, strawberry, passion fruit, kiwi, grape, mango… in fact, these fruit-laden versions have become more popular in Brazil than the original lime-only version, which is coming to be thought of as “Grandpa’s drink.” But to hell with that, Grandpa knows a thing or two.
Cachaça is Brazil’s national spirit: there are over 5,000 brands available down there. You may have a harder time than the Brazilians do tracking it down if you don’t live near a well-stocked shop… which is why God created Hi-Time. Have some shipped out in time for the next heat wave!
Hardware: Jigger, Muddler, Barspoon
Ice: Cracked ice
Glassware: Rocks glass
Spirits: Cachaça (recommended: Leblon, Sagatiba, Novo Fogo)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Simple syrup
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime chunks
In a rocks glass, add:
Half a lime, cored and cut into four chunks
1/2 oz simple syrup
Muddle well to express all lime juice and rind oils, then add cracked ice to fill to the rim and:
2 oz cachaça
Swizzle with the barspoon to blend and chill.