WYSBD: The Caipirinha
There are some days when you really don’t want to faff about with a complicated, elaborate drink that requires some real forethought as to ingredients and glassware. Sometimes, you just want a drink.
I guess today would be one of those days for me. For some unknown reason, I’m in a bit of a slump, and the idea of messing around with beautiful garnishes and millilitre-perfect measures of the finest liquor in the land is right up there with pushing hot needles under my fingernails.
It also happens that we have no tonic water in the house, so a G&T is out. What we do have is tonnes of limes and a bottle of cachaça. Caipirinha it is then.
In case you haven’t heard of it, the Caipirinha (pronounced k-eye-per-een-ya) is Brazil’s national drink, and can loosely be translated to something of the ilk of ‘hill-billy’. The main ingredient you need to get a hold of in advance is cachaça, which is Brazil’s answer to rum. It is produced in the millions of gallons in Brazil, but only between 1 and 10 percent is exported. Like the Caipirinha, it really is a drink of the people, and I love it. I recommend two: either Sagatiba Velha or Germana.
But let’s not waste time here, we should get on and make the bloody thing. Drinks are there to be drunk, not talked about.
Remember last week I explained how to make crushed ice by beating it with a rolling pin and thinking of Justin Bieber’s smarmy face? Let’s start by doing that – you’ll need enough to fill a nice chunky rocks (low-ball) glass. If you’re feeling particularly miserable, you can just use cubed ice, but the drink is not quite the same with it.
Get a lime and cut it into wedges. Limes are notoriously fickle, so it’s going to be hard for me to tell you precisely how much you need. Start with 6 or 8 depending on the size of the lime – you should have enough to half-fill your glass. Toss them in your glass, and to it add sugar. Officially speaking you should be using white granulated sugar here, but I think you get a much better flavour using a soft brown sugar instead. Throw in two teaspoon’s worth.
Drizzle over the limes and sugar a small amount of cachaça – Maybe 10 to 15ml (two to three teaspoons). Accuracy really isn’t critical here, and you can leave this step out altogether, though I believe it does help to extract the maximum flavour from the limes by using the alcohol as a solvent.
Pick up your Bieber-bashing rolling pin now and use it to squash the lime wedges and sugar together in the glass until all the juice is extracted and the sugar is dissolved – this is known as muddling. Now pour over a hefty glug of cachaça: 75ml should do the trick; and fill the glass with crushed ice. Take a spoon, fork, spanner, or basically any other utensil you have lying around and vigorously bring the mixture together. You want to be using a motion that pulls the lime and sugar from the bottom and evenly distributes it throughout the drink – a whisking action of sorts. This also helps to dilute the drink a bit (in a good way – it’ll help take the edge off the alcohol and bring all the flavours together).
Finish the drink with a bit of fresh crushed ice on top and a lime wedge.
Stick a straw in it – you’re done.