Y’all, Thursday crept up on me, and I’m having trouble putting my thoughts in order on some of the things I want to write. So today, you get my instructions for making caipirinhas. I’m putting this in the lazy foodie contradiction recipe category because caipirinhas are high ROI, both because you put in so little in effort and time, and you get back so much in deliciousness.
I’d never drunk a caipirinha before going to Brazil for work a couple of months ago. Caipirinhas are made with cachaça, and whisk(e)y is my favorite, so I gravitate to whisk(e)y- and rye-based drinks, ignoring everything else on the cocktail menu. Caipirinhas are the official cocktail of Brazil, and therefore any visit to Brazil would be inauthentic and incomplete without tasting one. (I know this might seem like exaggeration and rationalization. I promise you that within fifteen minutes of being introduced to a Brazilian, one of the first questions he or she asked was whether I had tried a caipirinha yet.)
Cachaça is a spirit made from sugar cane juice; for this reason, you will find it in the rum aisle at the liquor store. (Because of the World Cup and depending on how good your liquor store is, the shelf might be empty.) Sometimes people will call it “Brazilian rum.” Please don’t do that. Also, it’s pronounced “kah-shah-sah” not “kuh-shah-kuh.” I understand that this is an area of opportunity in personal growth for me, but I found myself judging the managers at my local liquor stores and finding them wanting for making these seemingly minor mistakes.
There are literally THOUSANDS of varieties of cachaça in Brazil. The locals couldn’t tell me a specific brand they recommended. The guy at duty-free at the Rio de Janeiro airport talked me into getting a bottle of gold cachaça (aged in barrels, which imparts color); I don’t think that’s necessary, based on the caipirinhas that various bartenders made for me in Brazil. I didn’t see the same bottle twice, and every single caipirinha I drank tasted fantastic.
So as you’re watching the World Cup in Brazil (and in preparation for the Rio Olympics), I recommend getting into the spirit (hahahahaha – sorry) and making yourself a caipirinha as you watch. You won’t be sorry.
Ingredients for one caipirinha:
- One lime
- 1-2 heaping soup spoons of sugar OR 0.5-1 tsp Truvia, to taste
- 2 oz cachaça
Slice off the poles from your lime (aka the stem end and the blossom end for persnickety types). Stand the lime on one of the ends and cut the lime in half. Carefully slice out the pith running down the center of the lime (skipping this will make your life harder in a minute). Cut each lime half into thirds the long way; cut each of those long wedges in half. You should have a dozen, square-ish wedges of lime.
Drop your lime wedges into a double old-fashioned glass (or juice tumbler or sippy cup or whatever drinking equipment you have handy). Add sugar. Using a muddler (I don’t own one) or the handle of a wooden spoon (this is what I use), smash the juice out of all the wedges. I don’t recommend pounding them – you risk splashing lime juice in your eye and breaking your glass. Be deliberate. Press and twist gently (removing the pith allows delicacy to be effective). Take your time. It’ll be worth it.
Stir the lime wedge carcasses, lime juice, and sugar until all the sugar has dissolved. Check the level of the mixture in your glass. Add enough ice on top to double the height. Pour in the cachaça. Give it a long stir.
Don’t gulp the drink. Savor it. Notice how the sugar marries the tartness of the limes and the bite of the cachaça to make a harmonious whole. Let the ice melt a little and appreciate how it increases the harmony. And keep your fingers crossed that the USMNT plays well enough today against Germany to advance to the next round.