The World’s Most Adorable Dog….
printed with permission from Life of Jalo

I grew up watching all the games, and I still remember well when Brazil won (for the third time) in 1970, with a team that joined the one and only Pele’,  Rivelino, Tostao and Gerson, to name four of my favorites.  Most people in Brazil have their own routine  to watch the games and the whole country pretty much freezes when Brazil plays. Our family gathered at my parents’ home,  with my Mom sitting in her favorite chair, always wearing the same robe. It turns out that she wore it in the final game of 1970, when Brazil beat Italy in a nail-biter to capture the World Cup.   That outfit became, and remains to this day the “World Cup robe.”   It was carefully washed and stored away, only to appear every 4th year after that 1970 game.

Since I left the country watching the games hasn’t been the same, but  to bring the right spirit to the festivities I like to make “caipirinhas“, Brazil’s national drink.  It’s a blast of refreshing lime with “pinga” – a sugar cane distillate  not too hard to find in the US.

(the authentic way, prepared one drink at a time)

1 thick-bottomed glass
1 large lime
1 Tbs granulated sugar
ice cubes (enough to fill the glass)
pinga (aka cachaca, aguardente de cana)

Wash the limes, cut both ends. Quarter the lime lengthwise, removing the central white pith which is bitter. Cut each quarter in half crosswise and place the lime pieces in the glass.

Add the granulated sugar, and working with a wooden pestle , crush the limes with the sugar.  Crushing the fruit with a wooden pestle is essential to the authenticity of this drink, but such tools are hard to find in the States.  If you don’t have one, maybe the handle of a heavy wooden spoon will suffice.   Once you’ve crushed the limes fill the glass with ice cubes or crushed ice. Pour pinga to the top, mix with a spoon and serve.



Comments: There are many types of pinga around.  Some are clear, some are aged,  turning yellow or  light brown.   Those are smoother, with less bite, and besides in capirinhas they may also be enjoyed by sipping.   In the US, the chances are that you will only find clear pinga, among which the most popular brands are “Ypioca”, “51”, and “Pitu”.

Recently in Food and Wine magazine the well-respected chef Daniel Bouloud shared his take on caipirinhas, and served them in wine glasses. My jaw dropped in disbelief when I saw the photos of this crime!  Mr. Boloud would certainly not approve of Champagne served in a teacup, and drinking  caipirinhas from wine glasses is just as bad.  So please, stick to these basic rules: prepare them in a large, strong glass, one drink at a time  using granulated sugar (no simple syrup, no agave nectar, no mint).

Brazilian-approved variations: You can use vodka in place of pinga, for a drink called “caipiroska“.  They’re delicious too, and probably a little easier next day😉.   Some of my friends have been trying to convince me that “kiwi caipirinhas” are as good as the real thing, but I am a purist and I haven’t made them.  They do sound tasty, plus you get to eat the kiwi at the end.  Go lighter on the sugar if using kiwis, though.     And let me know if you try it, I might just relax my standards and go for it. 😉

Finally,  a few sound files to help you with Brazilian words…

Caipirinha click here  

Pinga… Cachaça… 

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12 thoughts on “CAIPIRINHAS 101

  1. I really don’t like alcohol, the only exception being caipirinha, mojito and plum wine. So, you don’t use raw cane sugar in Brazil? Here in Germany, they always make caipi with granulated raw cane sugar (which is brown, but not the same as brown sugar you use in baking in the U.S.). I always use Pitu Cachaca – hope that this is a good choice! And no, I don’t serve it in wine glasses ;o))))).


    • Pitu is a good choice, I should have included it, as it’s not that hard to find either. I will go back and edit….

      I do have raw cane sugar, but never saw it used in caipirinhas – I forgive you, though…😉


  2. Te, as a member of the third generation of the Newton family, I must say you have to overcome your reserves and try the “lima da Pérsia” caipirinha. Lemon will be instantly forgotten!
    Good luck, Brazil! We will be all wearing our special robes, including my 2-year old and my 1-year old. Sadly, these robes will certainly not fit them in four years. Grandma will have to buy new ones for the next Cup, although we will keep these for good luck if Brazil wins!!


  3. Hello there, Quel
    (Raquel is my dear niece, for those who are following this thread… )

    not sure what “lima da persia” would be here – I’m wondering if it’s the same as Meyer’s lemons? – will have to investigate. If so, I cannot find it here where I live, but it’s very popular in California. I’ll try to find out more about it.


  4. In Recife I was taught to cut the lime pieces a bit smaller, then pound them in a mortar before adding the other ingredients (hard work, often given to the kids to do).
    This way gives a lot of juice so you do without the alcohol, but then of course it really should be called something else!


    • Very interesting, Pauline… I’ve been to Recife only once, had a few caipirinhas in the hotel and restaurants, but of course, did not see them being prepared

      We are very fond of “batida de maracuja’ ” – if I ever find the fresh fruit here, I’ll blog about it for sure: a real tropical treat!


  5. One of our best friends here in Tucson served in the Peace Corps in Brazil, even married a Brazilian woman, although it ended in divorce. Anyway, he has made this drink for us many times. I love it, but watch out!!!


  6. A caipirinha or two would definitely help me endure the vuvuzelas!😉 Interesting to know about the glass choice. I’ll be sure to use a good, thick-bottomed glass. Can’t wait to make some proper caipirinhas!


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