Caipirinha, Caipifruta, Caipiroska, Caipisake… which would you like?
“Caipirinha” is the national Brazilian cocktail. The first caipirinha I ever tried in Brazil rocked my world! It is perfect for a hot day on the beach; the traditional version uses the acidity of lime and sweetness of sugar to balance out the burn of the cachaça (alcohol derived from sugar cane) taste. Typically a caipirinha from my observations is half ice and half alcohol, crushed with a generous portion of lime and sugar. They’re quite liberal with their liquor here generally so folks usually don’t mind drizzling your drink with more alcohol if you ask nicely… Thus, one drink (around $R10 on the beach) should give you a nice buzz!
When you first get to Brazil, you may be confused by all the variations of “caipi-“somethings you see on the menu. Usually their names vary by the alcohol base being used, or by the fruit being used. Here are some of the most common caipiras:
- Caipirinha: The most common name for the cocktail, and generally refers to a cachaça-base version of the drink
- Caipiroska: Vodka-base; my personal favorite as cachaça usually gives a worse hangover, but generally pricier than cachaça
- Caipivodka: Also vodka-base
- Caipirissima: Rum-base
- Sakerinha: Sake-base, invented due to the large number of Japanese descendents in Brazil! I personally do not like the taste of sake in my caipirinha
- Caipifruta: A caipirinha made of fruits other than lime. I would say that the 4 most common flavors are strawberry (“morango”, yum), kiwi (“kiwi”), passion fruit (“maracujá”), and pineapple (“abacaxi”). Other interesting flavors to try when available are cashew fruit (“caju”), cajá, grapes (“uva”). Some fancier bars will offer novelty caipirinhas with a mix of different fruits!
A highly recommended caipirinha bar in São Paulo is Bar Veloso (closed on Mondays). The place is popular even among locals for their tasty and creative caipirinha cocktails and coxinhas (Brazilian snack of shredded chicken mixed in a batter and fried).