Feature photo by mawel

First off, I’d like to start by stating that I enjoy a tasty beverage. I salivate over the idea of getting lost in islands with a tropical drink. Especially a tasty beverage that is spiked with a little bit of the devils mouthwash, if you know what I mean. Some hard liquor combined with just the right amount of fruit flavor is what I have in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy an ale or lager, but sometimes beer won’t do. You want to get to where you’re going quicker. Today is about a very special alcoholic beverage. I must admit my ignorance of this international drink, so I decided to do some investigating. The caipirinha is recognized as the national cocktail of Brazil. Most commonly made with Cachaca, sugar, and lime. Cachaca is a Brazilian brandy made from sugar cane; it was once used as a folk remedy for colds and flu’s. To make a caipirinha is simple enough. First you start by muddling a little bit of sugar with lime wedges and then add a few ounces of cachaca and ice. See was that so hard? To get an idea of the correct technique check out YouTube. With the explosion of Brazilian restaurants in America, the caipirinha has become popular.

Naturally, I scoured the city for places that have the best caiprinha. My first stop was the ever-popular Fogo de Chao. I stuffed myself with various meats and demanded a caiprinha. Wow, what great presentation of. There is always a sense of satisfaction when real, fresh ingredients are used. So many times I’ve had mixed drinks with an unnamed fruit substitute from a generic container. Here were real limes and real sugar. The sweetness of sugar nicely balanced the tartness of the lime. This was good, but I want to try more. My next journey brought me to Carnivale. I’ve been here many times before, but never thought of trying a caiprinha. Here, sipping on a mildly sweet piece of Brazilian culture makes me feel like I’ve been missing out on something grand. All these wasted years of never using Cachaca in my drinks. I swear this stuff tastes as if rum and tequila had a baby. I enjoyed it but still liked the one a Fogo a bit better. If you thought those places were great, you haven’t seen anything yet. Recently I took a trip to Las Vegas. Yes, Las Vegas. Since I was asked to take on the task of finding the best caiprinha, I let my quest spill into Vegas. I asked the annoyed guy at the front desk were I could find a Brazilian restaurant. Pampas was the answer. The grandeur of Vegas clearly translated to this place. I asked for a Caiprinha. They replied, “ what kind?” They had lime, raspberry, and cumquat. The raspberry was absolutely amazing. To tell you the truth, I could enjoy raspberry on or in anything. This drink was no exception. If this is what Brazil tastes like, book me a ticket. The caiprinha is a drink to look out for; they even have it at T.G.I Friday’s now. If you want a good caiprinha in Chicago, check out Fogo de Chao on LaSalle. Wherever you go, be sure to ask for this Brazilian import.

Ingredients

  • 2oz Cachaça
  • ½ Lime cut into 4 wedges (or tahiti lime, but not green lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons crystal or refined sugar

Preparation
Place lime and sugar into old fashioned glass and muddle (mash the two ingredients together using a muddler or a wooden spoon). Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the Cachaça.

Notes
A wide variety of fresh fruits can be used in place of lime. In the absence of cachaça, vodka can be used.

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