Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil. The drink is made with cachaça (pronounced - kuh-sha-suh). It is technically a brandy and a member of the aguardente family. There is an old adage in Brazil: "quanto pior a cachaça, melhor a caipirinha" –– the worse the cachaça, the better the caipirinha. The name caipirinha is derived from the Portuguese word caipira (hick, hayseed, country bumpkin, rube, etc.) coupled with the -inha suffix (a diminutive denoting little or small) and can be roughly translated as little hick, little hayseed, little country bumpkin, little rube, etc., etc. Poor man’s drink or not, cachaça has become an integral part of Brazilian culture and its significance ranks right up there with soccer/football (futebol), carnival and samba as Brazilian national icons. The Brazilians like it sweet.... VERY sweet. In Brazil, the very best caipirinhas are made with "limões gallegos" –– what in the U.S. is often referred to as a key lime. Can also be made by the pitcher!
- 3 key limes
- 4 ounces cachaca (1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar (to taste)
- 2 cups crushed ice
Trim the ends off the key limes and halve lengthwise. Cut each half into 4 slices.
In a cocktail shaker, using a wooden spoon or a pestle, muddle the key limes with the 1/4 cup of sugar until juicy and the sugar dissolves.
Add the cachaça and the crushed ice and shake for 10 seconds; taste and add more sugar if desired.
Pour (not strain) into an old-fashioned glass or tumbler ice and serve.