Somehow I have gone for three years without talking about my role as chief caipirinha maker in our group of friends. Invariably, at every party, I wind up in the kitchen making caipirinhas.
My guess is that no one else wants to go through all the trouble of making the cocktails so they smile at the gringo, flatter me with praise about my being the best caipirinha maker, and then hand me a bag of ingredients and escort me to the kitchen.
As for me, in the beginning, since I had next to zero language abilities, it was more fun to make caipirinhas and receive praise in the form of smiles and raised glasses than it was to sit in a chair and watch the world go by.
So at this point I have made hundreds of these things and have, indeed, become a bit of an aficionado.
After screening about a dozen YouTube videos looking for a demonstration I could stand behind I found this one. But – it still falls short. I have a number of comments/corrections to add, but I liked the sound track. Take a look, and then check out my critique below.
First, you probably noticed the lime ingredient is referred to as a lemon. That’s because the common name of this fruit in Portuguese is “limão” and there really are no true yellow lemons here, except in the imported fruit section of better grocery stores (so there is little reference for Brazilians to make a distinction). Actually, my fancy dictionary says that in Portuguese a lime is “lima” and a lemon is “limão” but everyone I’ve ever heard calls a lime a limão. Luiz still gets these two fruits mixed up. Anyway…
Next, that bottle of cachaça wrapped in that distinctive cane webbing is undoubtedly Ypióca brand. Personally, I would not use it for caipirinhas, especially the dark variety. I prefer the darker (aged in wood, thus the color) cachaças for sipping and use exclusively clear cachaças for caipirinhas. (Unless there is no choice…)
The video suggests that the darker cachaças are generally sweeter than the clear. I’m not so sure about that. They definitely are more flavorful, but not necessarily sweeter. It is this flavor (however refined or not) that makes them ill-matched for a caipirinha. Stick with the clear fire water stuff.
A plião is basically a muddler. Be sure to keep your food and beverage muddlers separate. You do not want to use your garlic crushing or spice grinding pestle to smash up sugar and limes for a cocktail.
As is done in the video, I like to cut the lime into pretty small pieces (don’t forget to give them a good washing before you use them), this makes for more surface area involved when you muddle, releasing more juice from the fruit and oil from the peel. Some people prefer the aesthetic of larger wedges.
Sugar quantity is a personal taste thing. I err on the less-sweet side. If you want a sweet drink, make a kiwi or maracujá “caipifruta.” In a caipirinha I think you should use enough sugar to balance out the bitter and tart flavors of the lime, but not try to go for a sweet drink. The example in the video has too much sugar, IMHO, as evidenced by the layer of undissolved sugar mud at the bottom of the glass in his finished product. When perfect flavor is not an issue, some folks prefer to use artificial sweetener to save on all the calories.
Like the video, I fill the glass with (filtered water) ice and top it off with the cachaça. But unlike the video, I then plop it all into a cocktail shaker (or suitable substitute) and shake the heck out of it for a good long time. This both gets it nicely chilled, as well as facilitates dissolving the sugar. Then I pour it all back into the glass.
Again, use clear cachaça. That nasty brownish cocktail at the end of the video turns me off.
One other thing: while most people turn their noses up at Cachaça 51 brand cachaça as being rot gut cheap stuff, I think it actually is perfect for a standard caipirinha. But that’s just me.
Remember, don’t drink and drive.
To REALLY get an eye full of all things cachaça, take a look at the Cachaçagora blog.