adult beverages: how to make a caipirinha



It's that time of year when I start getting impromptu invites from friends who've cleaned off their patios and decks and have people over to share good food, good conversation and verygood drinks. I hate showing up empty-handed, and it's not always time- or cost-effective to cook something to share with a crowd. That's when I reach for one of my favorite cocktail recipes. It's easy to make yet still unique enough to spark some conversation around the drink itself.

What is this springtime spirit, you ask? None other than the beloved Brazilian beverage: the caipirinha.

Pronounced: kye-pee-REE-nyuh, I first had this drink when I visited Rio 6 years ago. Within minutes of arriving at our hotel, my friend and I made our way out onto the streets of Ipanema. We made quick friends with two lively (and drop-dead gorgeous) cariocas who insisted that they be the ones to buy us our first caipirinhas. They took us a few steps to a little booth / shack where a guy was serving up the citrusy drinks for $1 USD apiece! I watched as the guy chopped, smushed, and poured what ended up being the best drink i'd ever had (okay, maybe the scenery had a little to do with it too).

Anyhow, I made him make me another one and asked him to show me how to recreate the drink when I got home...the rest is history. Don't let the fancy name fool you, it's a really simple fix once you get the hang of it. And if you get raised eyebrows when you go to serve it to your guests, just tell 'em what I always say, "It's like a mojito, but without the mint".


  • 1 lime
  • 2 rounded teaspoons granulated sugar (superfine if ya got it)
  • cachaca (kuh-SHA-suh; brazilian rum) - if u don't have cachaca, u can substitute any other white rum or even vodka, but then you'd have to call the drink a caipivodka or caipiroska, don't worry. by any other name, it still tastes just as sweet
  • crushed ice
  • a pestle, muddler, or a wooden spoon
  • old-fashioned or 'lowball' glass tumbler
  • sugarcane - optional garnish

slice the ends off of the lime. cut the lime into four wedges, then cut each of the wedges in half. place the cut lime in the glass, and add the sugar. give the sugar and lime a good pressing / mushing with your muddler, pestle or spoon - the point is to get all the juicy, pulpy goodness out of the limes and to dissolve most of the sugar so you don't end up with a grainy beverage. next, add the crushed ice almost to the top of the glass. add the cachaca - again, almost filling the glass - and stir the mixture to combine everything. serve with a stalk of sugarcane as a garnish, or just slip in your straw and enjoy!