This traditional Brazilian drink prepared with cachaça is very popular in Europe and the U.S. I guess you could say it USED TO be Brazil's best-kept secret, but it's the connoisseur's cocktail of choice from New York City to Miami, commanding hefty prices. The first time I had one outside Brazil was a long time ago: I walked into a small bar in Domodossola, a small city in northern Italy near the Swiss border, and had a great caipirinha prepared for me by an Italian barman in love with Brazilian music...and caipirinhas!
Wash the lime and roll it on the board to loosen the juices. Cut the lime into pieces and place them in a glass. Sprinkle with the sugar and crush the pieces (pulp side up) with a pestle. (We have a long, wooden one from Brazil, made specifically for this purpose.) Just enough to release the juice, otherwise it'll get bitter. Add the cachaça and stir to mix. Add the ice and stir again. It is delicious and potent!
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 and lychee are all the rage in Brazil now! Try one...We have a recipe for caipirinha made with tangerine, but you can also try the Brazilian fruit called lima-da-Pérsia, strawberries, kiwi, fresh passion fruit with mint, passion fruit with pitanga, watermelon, pink grapes, siriguela, you name it...To see all kinds of Brazilian fruits, visit our At the Feira pages.
Some of the foods to eat with caipirinhas: fried manioc, codfish balls, and caldinho de feijão (soupy black beans served in a tall glass or a small bowl). Enjoy!
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, France or the Brazilian Vale dos Vinhedos, with the added bonus of their famous regional cuisine. Cachaça is also notorious for brands with pornographic labels...they're hilarious! Cachaça has also inspired many famous Brazilian songs: "Moda da Pinga" and the carnaval song "Cachaça" are my favorites.
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.
I just bought this beautiful and very informative book about cachaça in São Paulo; I'm sure it must be available on the web.
A great place to visit in Leblon is Academia da Cachaça at Rua Conde Bernadotte, 26. Great selection of drinks and traditional foods to eat with them. A new place to taste very special cachaças is located in the Lapa district of Rio: Cachaçaria Mangue Seco, Rua do Lavradio, 23 (where we took the photograph at the top of this page).
If you read Portuguese, this site about cachaça is fantastic!
You can see a step-by-step caipirinha preparation (great photos, by the way!) in this French site: www.caipirinha.fr
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