Bobby Viegas, our resident Brazilian superstar, makes killer caipirinhas and we are fortunate enough to get the recipe here:
A caipirinha is made with lime, sugar, and cachaça (distilled fermented sugar cane). Usually, the lime wedges and sugar are muddled together in individual glasses. I am a lazy man, and I tend to drink multiple drinks, so I prefer to squeeze lime juice into a large bowl and throw in the lime wedges. Then it’s time to add sugar. Pour sugar into the lime wedges/juice, and once you think you’ve put enough, you should probably put more. The good news is that you can always add sugar to the drinks after the cachaça goes in, so it’s better to be safe than to end up in a diabetic coma. Mix it well with the lime juice/wedges. Once the sugar has mostly dissolved, dump in the cachaça and stir. If the drink is too acidic or bitter, it needs more sugar. Taste the mixture you have in the bowl, and add sugar accordingly. My rule of thumb is: it’s going to suck until it has the right amount of sugar. If it needs more lime, add more lime. If it needs more cachaça, there’s a meeting you might want to attend. Once the taste is what you’d like it to be, just pour it onto glasses filled with ice and drink away.
Pure cane granulated sugar (to taste)
3 cans of Cachaça (21 oz. each)
1. Slice 3-4 limes into 8 wedges. The easy way is to using a juicer to squish the lime wedges and then toss the wedge into the bowl with the juice. If you don't have a juicer, just put the lime wedges into a bowl and mash them with a potato masher so that they release most of their juice.
While slicing, be sure to cut off the whites so that your drink isn't bitter.
2. Start by adding 1/2 cup of sugar and go from there. Bob is a sugar snob and specified pure cane granulated sugar, but I'm guess regular sugar would do in a pinch.
3. Stir the sugar into the lime juice mixture. Take a little taste and see how it tastes. You can add maybe up to another 1/2 cup or so, depending on your sweet/sour tooth.
4. Add one can of cachaça and mix everything together. Pour mixture, limes and all, into waiting glasses filled with ice. Repeat this process with the other cans. Yum, yum, yum...
Bob’s Deep Thoughts on Cachaça: As far as buying cachaça goes, you should use the cheap stuff. Pitú, which is distilled just outside beautiful, crime-laden Recife, goes for about $15 a bottle at Schneiders. Unfortunately, you cannot find it in $1 pounder cans here in the US like you can in Brazil. Steer clear from Leblon and Cabana cachaças, those don’t exist in Brazil and are marketed towards Americans and their fantasies of Brazil (and they cost twice as much). Leblon was created by a guy called Robert Stoll—hardly Brazilian if you ask me, what with the name Robert and all. The caipirinha works best with the cheap stuff: Pitu or 51. If you can’t find cachaça or want to steer clear from its harshness, you can replace it with a light rum (Bacardi works great) and drink what Brazilians call a Caipiríssima (Mom and Dad’s preferred version); many in Brazil also use vodka instead, for what we call a Caipiroska.