Making the perfect caipirinha in Brazil


One of the first things I discovered when I arrived in Brazil was the caipirinha. Everyone drinks them and they are fantastically delicious – I can’t imagine a party in São Paulo without them. Even when you’re lying on the beach in Rio de Janeiro you can see waiters running back and forth, serving them.

They’re the perfect party drink because the ingredients are relatively cheap: with a bag of limes, sugar, ice and a bottle of cachaça or vodka you can make 10 to 14 of them. Cachaça is similar to our cane spirits but I find vodka easier on the tongue. If like me you prefer to use vodka the drink is called a caipiroska.

Step 1: Quarter the limes and remove the pith and pips. This makes it easier to extract the juice and prevents the drink becoming bitter.

Step 2: Put the lime quarters (about one or two limes per person depending on how juicy the limes are) in a bowl and add a tablespoon of sugar per person. Using a pestle, mash the sugar and limes.

Step 3: Pour the lime and sugar mixture into a glass along with the lime peels. Fill each glass a third of the way with this mixture. Add enough ice until the liquid rises halfway up the glass or even two-thirds of the way. (Use short glasses such as whisky glasses.)

Step 4: Top up withvodka or cachaça. If you feel this is a bit too potent, dilute the mixture with soda water or plain water or add more ice.

Cheers! Or as the Brazilians say, “Saúde!”

Tips: Limes are cheap in Brazil but can be fairly dear in South Africa. You can achieve more or less the same taste with more affordable lemons. The Brazilians don’t only use limes to make caipirinhas. Strawberry, pineapple, kiwi and granadilla are the most popular variations. I’m mad about strawberry caipiroskas.

- Dalena Theron

* Dalena previously worked for YOU. In 2012, her husband, Thomas, was transferred to Brazil.

I taught my friends how to make caipirinhas when I visited South Africa in December. Here my friend Corali takes a picture of one of our supersized caipirinhas.

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