Mention cachaça and most savvy imbibers would respond: Caipirinha!
Cachaça (cah-SHA-sah) is Brazil’s national spirit, and the Caipirinha (kai-puh-REEN-ya, photo #2) is one of the easiest cocktails to make. We’ve included the recipe below.
There are numerous fine cachaca brands available in the U.S. One we’ve been enjoying is Novo Fogo (“new fire”), especially their versatile Chameleon Cachaça (photo #3).
It’s aged for one year in repurposed American oak barrels, just long enough to gather nuances of flavor and aroma: a hazelnut nose and sweet-and-spicy herbs in the palate, finishing with some lively citrus.
Novo Fogo also has an award-winning Two-Woods Series (aged in American oak plus Brazilian woods) and single barrel cachacas aged 2, 3 and 5 years. All are affordable gifts for the cachaça lover.
We thank them for these two cachaça recipes.
This recipe uses honey syrup. The recipe is below.
Ingredients Per Drink
You can make a Caipirinha more special by using barrel-aged cachaça (analogous to a reposado tequila—photo #3).
Over the years, numerous variations have appeared. For example, a Caipiroska substitutes vodka for the cachaça, a Caipirissima replaces the cachaça with rum.
Then came the Lemon Caipirinha, the Strawberry Caipirinha, the Whisky Cipirinha, and so on.
Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture did not want the national cocktail to be sullied with other ingredients, so in order to be called a Caipirinha, they published a decree in 2009. Legally, to be called a Caipirinha, the drink can only be made with cachaça, lime and sugar.
They can only enforce the law in Brazil in commercial establishments; so if you feel the need to play with the recipe, go ahead.
This recipe uses aged cachaça, for more layers of flavor.
Ingredients Per Drink
1. MUDDLE the lime in a shaker until the juice is all squeezed out. Add the sugar and muddle to combine.
Honey syrup is simple syrup that is made with honey instead of table sugar. It’s the same 1:1 recipe as simple syrup.
1. COMBINE the honey and water in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat.
2. STIR until the honey is dissolved, 1-2 minutes, taking care to keep the heat low. Do not simmer, and certainly don’t boil!
3. COOL to room temperature before using. Refrigerate in a tightly-capped jar for 1 month or more.
*Don’t have superfine sugar? Just pulse table sugar in a food processor or spice mill to superfine consistency.*
†There is a difference between stored and aged cachaça. Stored cachaça is kept in wooden barrels for a non-specified period of time. Aged cachaça must contain more than 50% of cachaça that is at least one year old, and rested in barrels of up to 700 liters. The highest categories of aged cachaça are Premium, aged for a period not shorter than one year, and Extra Premium, aged for a period of than three years or longer. Both of these must contain 100% of cachaça aged in wood barrels.