It’s officially spring and (despite this mini cold stretch) I can hardly wait to put on my culottes and flip-flops. I simply can’t get my mind off of the tropics and warm weather classics, and this caipirinha recipe is just the thing for getting into that balmy, summer-breeze state of mind.
The caipirinha – Brazil’s national cocktail – contains cachaça (a raw sugar-cane spirit), fresh muddled lime, and sugar. It’s the cousin of the mojito, minus the mint. Sometimes referred to as “Brazilian rum” or aguardente de cana, cachaça (pronounced ka- sha-sa) is more akin the agricole rhums of the French Caribbean, which I’ve written about previously, than other rums familiar in the U.S., which are generally distilled from molasses. Since cachaça is made from fresh fermented sugarcane juice, it’s a cheeky spirit with tasting notes of exotic fruit and bright citrus (think honey and canteloupe), and the sugarcane really comes through.
Read more: The Classic Daiquiri, Redefined for Winter
My take on the classic caipirinha replaces the sugar with juicy, ripe pineapple. The sweet tropical floral notes of this tropical fruit flesh out the acidity of the lime as well as the complex layers of the cachaça. Ok, so pineapples aren’t exactly a local ingredient, but they’re in season right now and have such a strong correlation with hospitality and Rhode Island that I couldn’t resist. Brazilian law defines that cachaça can be distilled to 34–54 percent alcohol, like the like Boca Loca used here; beware of stronger versions, which can can fiery and overpowering. (If you do choose a cachaça with a higher alcohol content, add more lime and pineapple to balance it out.) Perfect for spring, the Piña Caipirinha provides a taste of the tropics just when we desperately need it, but before the real heat hits.
The Piña Caipirinha
makes one cocktail
2–4 lime wedges (half of one lime), cut into quarters
2 ounces cachaça (I like Boca Loca)
2 1-inch cubes of fresh pineapple
Glassware: rocks or old-fashioned glass
Slice the lime in half the long way and cut it into wedges. Cube the lime wedges and muddle them with the two cubes of fresh pineapple in a rocks glass. Add cachaça and ice and stir. To make the cocktail slightly less strong, dilute it by shaking the mixture over ice in a bar tin then pour the contents into a rocks glass. Sip and repeat.
Photos by Lindy McDonough.