Caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil. Although there are many variations today, the original is solely made with Cachaça, cane sugar and lime. Cachaça which is also known as Pinga or Caninha is Brazil’s most famous distilled alcoholic beverage.
Like rum, it is made from sugar cane, whereas cachaça is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice while rum is usually made from sugar cane molasses. Since some rums are produced in a similar way, however, cachaça is sometimes also called Brazilian rum.
Against the common misconception of using brown cane sugar, Caipirinha is originally prepared with white cane sugar from Brazil which has a more fruity aroma and also dissolves better in the cold liquid.
The actual origin of the Caipirinha is not known but there are many stories about where it may have come from. The most common one dates back to the early 20th century. A mixture of lime, garlic and honey was used as medication against the Spanish Flu in the state of São Paulo. Oftentimes, a shot of rum was added to the mixture as it was common to use alcohol in home remedies to expedite the therapeutic effect.
It is said that one day a person left out the honey and garlic and used sugar to balance the acidity of the lime instead. Finally, the ice followed as a means against the Brazilian heat and the Caipirinha we know today was born.
What does “Caipirinha” mean?
Caipirinha (Portuguese pronunciation: [kajpiˈɾĩɲɐ]) is the diminutive version of the word caipira. It is very similar in meaning and connotation to the American English expression “hillbilly” and thus refers to people from the countryside. In Brazilian Portuguese, the word caipirinha is, however, mainly associated with the drink itself rather than the type of person.
Now get your ingredients together and try your very own Caipirinha with our delicious recipe below – or simply take a trip to Brazil!
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