This weekend marks the beginning of Carnival fun and excitement in Brazil. Held annually in Brazil since 1641, it’s a raucous festival held before Lent, a period before Easter when Roman Catholics typically abstain from meat and celebration. Although this year’s revelry in Rio de Janeiro will be the largest to date – Brazil’s tourism department is expecting about 850,000 tourists to attend – the Carnival celebration has found its way to American cities like New Orleans, where the festival is better known as Mardi Gras.
Regardless of where you celebrate Brazilian carnival, one thing’s for sure: the caiprinha, as Brazil’s national cocktail, can easily be made part of your weekend celebration.
A refreshing mix of distilled sugar cane liqueur called cachaça and muddled lime with sugar, the caiprinha’s origins as the country’s celebrated cocktail dates back to the colonial era. Legend has it that slaves left sugar cane juices to sit around in a sugar mill – a mistake turned lucky when distillers realized that the fermented juice was a wonderful liqueur.
“It goes with the spirit of Brazil because its fresh, bright, vivacious and really lifts the spirit,” says Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, a French Culinary Institute-trained chef and cookbook author who has made her mission to share her love of Brazilian cuisine with home cooks. We’re featuring her recipe here and we only have one warning: they’re far too delicious to drink just one!
Makes 1 caipirinha
1 tablespoon sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons cachaça (adjust amount to taste)
Cut the two ends of the lime and cut lime into medium chunk wedges.
Using a muddler or even the end of a wooden spoon, mash the lime with sugar, making sure to squeeze all the juices from the lime and to dissolve the sugar in the juice.
Transfer the lime mixture to a shaker. Add the cachaça and ice cubes. Shake well (about 8 to10 times) and pour into a large (but not tall) sturdy glass.