17 November, 2015
Cachaça (pronounced ka-SHA-sa). The US government says it’s rum, but that’s about as close as it gets. Cachaça is a sugar cane derived liquor that is distilled at a lower proof than rum. It tends to have an almost “grassy” scent to it and it lends itself excellently to mixed drinks. The most famous of those mixed drinks is the caipirinha.
The caipirinha is a cachaça based drink made with sugar and lime juice. It doesn’t get much simpler. One could say that it’s a daiquiri reduced to its most basic ingredients and not be far wrong. It also just happens to be the national drink of Brazil and a tasty selection it is.
How I originally discovered the drink I’ve long since forgotten. Sadly, I never slung drinks in any establishment that offered it as option. Despite this, the caipirinha still came to be my favorite cocktail, though I rarely find it in restaurants. Chinook’s, at Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle, makes an excellent example however, there have been a few other establishments that should be charged with criminal negligence for the horrid concoctions they claimed were a caipirinha.
What follows is my take on it. It has a touch more mixer in it than the truly traditional version and the tradition calls for granulated sugar while I prefer to use simple syrup or agave nectar.
- ¾ oz fresh squeezed Lime Juice
- ¾ oz Simply Syrup or Agave Nectar
- 2 ounces cachaça (Leblon tends to be smoother while 51 is a bit harsher and makes a more traditional version of the cocktail. There are now a number of other options as well.)
- Half or whole wheel of lime for a garnish
- Several ice cubes (you can pour the ones used in the shaker straight into the glass or strain the drink over an ice filled rocks glass or whatever glass you happen to be using)
- Place lime and cachaça in shaker. Follow with the syrup or nectar. I add it last so it mixes into the drink better.
- Close the shaker and shake vigorously.
- Pour ingredients into glass.
- Add the lime garnish and serve!
The traditional way of using granulated sugar tends to leave a significant layer of granulated sugar in the bottom of the glass. Whether you see this as good or bad, is a matter of personal preference