Archive for August 24th, 2007|Daily archive page

Kai-pee-reen-yah

Caipirinha

Don’t call it a mojito. Cause it’s not. It may look a bit similar, but if you use the authentic ingredients you’ll see (and taste) why this drink stands on its own.

It’s a caipirinha and it’s the perfect summer drink AND it might be the easiest drink you’ll ever make.

You can use vodka (known as a caipiruska) or rum, but it’s not authentic if you don’t have a bottle of Cachaça (ka-SHA-sa). I just picked up my first bottle…it’s a totally different taste than rum or vodka, hard-hitting, but lite and delicious. It’s strong enough for a man, but sweet enough for a woman.

I went to my local liquor store and picked up a bottle of Leblon. It’s a clear, nice looking bottle, with lime green mountain silhouettes (symbolic of the Leblon, Brazil mountains). Mine came with a muddle, which I was in need of, so I was sold.

Here’s some background info on the caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail.

The national drink of Brazil, the Caipirinha gained its popularity in the 1950s and 1960s on the beaches of Rio and Sao Paulo State during the days of Jobim and Bossa Nova. To the non-Brazilian, the Caipirinha has similarities to its muddled cousin the Mojito and the lime-based Margarita. To us, the Caipirinhas have become a whole new cocktail platform for muddling fruits and other ingredients into exciting creations. (from Leblon)

The city of Paraty gave its name to the drink: parati is a synonym for cachaça. Other words for it include: pinga, caninha, branquinha, malvada. There are tours of distillers in the state of Minas Gerais, much in the same way as you’d tour vineyards in Sonoma Valley or in France, with the added bonus of their famous regional cuisine. Cachaça is also notorious for brands with pornographic labels…they’re hilarious!

You can also make a pitcher of caipirinha. Figure out how many people and multiply amounts. If you can’t find cachaça where you live, use a good vodka. The drink will then be called caipiroshka. No vodka? Use white rum and you will have a caipiríssima. Caipirinhas made with sake are all the rage in Rio now!

You can use cachaça to flambé bananas and other food; add it to hot chocolate and even to coffee; marinate pork loin and pork chops, etc. (from Maria’s Cookbook)

It might be tough for you to find a bottle of Cachaça, but if your liquor store carries it, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of the Leblon brand. If your store doesn’t carry it, try bevmo.com. I didn’t know much about it before buying the bottle, but after tasting it and taking a look at their site, turns out the stuff is pretty legit.

Leblon Cachaça was awarded a Double Gold Medal at the 7th Annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It was one of only two spirits in its category to receive the Double Gold Medal, and Leblon was also named “Top Cachaca” by a judging panel of the most influential spirits industry professionals in the U.S. The category with the largest growth was Cachaca – which went from three entries in 2006 (when it was introduced as a new category) to 16 entries in 2007 – making it equal to the Gin category for number of entries.

The recipe is simple enough:

  • 2 oz Cachaça (or vodka or rum or sake…)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 lime
  • crushed ice
  • muddle

And the directions are super quick:

  1. Rinse your lime, then dice it (roll it a bit to release the juices first). Once diced, toss in the sugar. Then, using a muddle, smush the sugar and lime til it turns into a sweet syrup. If you don’t have a muddle, a wooden spoon should work.
  2. Next, fill the remaining space in the glass with crushed ice.
  3. Finally, pour in the liquor. A shot or two will do.

Still confused? Here’s a step by step lesson in caipirinha-ing (I made that word up by the way…) and there’s also a video that can help.

Be sure to snoop around their site (liveloveleblon.com) for Leblon party invites, Brazilian music downloads and streaming radio, recipes and a ton of other interactive features.

Although this drink is good all year long, it’s especially refreshing in the summer, so get out those muddles and get to work. You don’t have much longer.

Photo from Flickr.

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