Two caipirinhas on the beach at Diogo, Brasil
Caipirinhas on the beach at Diogo, Brasil

The quintessential Brazilian cocktail. Pronounced ky-pee-REEN-ya.

1 lime
1 T sugar
1 shot cachaça (the ones in Brazil were so strong, I suspect a “shot” means about 4 ounces!)
Ice

Cut the lime into 4 quarters. Reserve one for a garnish and cut the remaining 3 in half, giving you 6 small wedges. Put them in the bottom of a shaker with the sugar and mash well with the handle of a wooden spoon. Pour in the cachaça, add a handful of ice, and shake. Pour into a glass and garnish with the reserved lime wedge.

Cachaça is common and cheap in Brazil, but expensive and rare in the U.S. You can substitute vodka, and the resulting drink is called a “caipiroshka.” Another choice is to substitute light rum and make a “caipirissima.” I’ve also read that a mixture of half light tequila and half light rum is the closest taste equivalent to cachaça.

Somewhere, I read that the caipirinha was one of Martha Stewart’s favorite cocktails. Who’da thunk it?