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Caipirinha Recipe

Caipirinha Recipe

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Refreshing, cool, sweet, and festive, caipirinha is Brazil. And if caipirinha is Brazil, then cachaça is our national shrine.

Caipirinha is a simple cocktail based on a mixture of mashed lime with sugar, ice, and cachaça.


  • 2 limes, ends trimmed off and cut into medium-sized wedges
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons cachaça (adjust amount to taste)
  • Ice cubes


Using a muddler, or the end of a wooden spoon, mash the limes with the 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 (8-10 times) and pour into a large, but not tall, glass.

How to Make an Authentic Caipirinha Cocktail

Master three versions of Brazil's national cocktail, the caipirinha, to properly celebrate the 2016 Summer Olympics.

With the 2016 Summer Olympics happening in Brazil, we feel it is our duty to show you how to mix up the national cocktail like you are right there in Rio. The caipirinha is a lovely sweet -- yet sour -- libation, and though there are endless creative recipe variations, it is traditionally made with cacha๺ (a Brazilian brandy), sugar, and fresh lime. Caipirinha is easy to make, refreshing to drink, and the perfect adult beverage to help properly celebrate the Summer Games.

For the sugar syrup, put the caster sugar in a small non-stick saucepan over a medium heat and pour in the water. Stir and bring to the boil. CAUTION: boiling sugar is extremely hot. Handle very carefully. Use a deep pan to avoid bubbling over.

Once the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear, take the pan off the heat and leave to cool.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the cooled sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker with the cachaça, lime juice and half of the lime wedges.

Fill the cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain the drink into a glass over fresh ice using a hawthorne cocktail strainer and a fine mesh strainer. If you don’t have a strainer, any kitchen sieve will work just as well. Garnish the caipirinha with a lime wedge.

Recipe Tips

Some limes may be more acidic than others, so taste the cocktail before pouring it over ice and add a touch more syrup if necessary.

I also like a big pinch of salt in this drink add just before shaking if desired.

Scale up the sugar syrup ingredients with a ratio of 2:1 if you’d like to make more. It’s easier to make in larger batches and keeps for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.


The Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail. Prized for its bright, complex flavor, the drink is enjoyed all over the country and, increasingly, all over the world. Its popularity has spurred numerous variations, as barkeeps tweak the classic drink by adding fruits and liqueurs or subbing in different base spirits.

That’s the case with the Caipiroska. This simple take on the Caipirinha eschews the traditional cachaça in favor of vodka. The former is Brazil’s national spirit. Similar to rum, cahcaça is distilled from the fermented juice of sugar cane and characterized by its funky, grassy flavor. Vodka, on the other hand, sports a lighter, straightforward profile that yields a lighter-tasting cocktail.

For the best results, legendary bartender and author Tony Abou-Ganim suggests making the fresh, citrusy Caipiroska with “a clean, neutral vodka with fruity, floral notes—something made from corn, wheat or mixed grain, something gentle.”

The Caipiroska isn’t an obscure variation or merely a training-wheels version of the Caipirinha it has gained traction in Brazil and neighboring South American countries, as more vodka brands enter the market and locals embrace the spirit.

The prescribed build for the Caipiroska is precise and worth following. Muddle the limes with the sugar to extract the oils from the lime peels, and you’ll enjoy a richer, tastier drink.

Pitcher Perfect Cocktails: Caipirinha Recipe

The usual suspects of beer and wine are always welcome at a gathering, but with pitchers of chilled drinks that you have made in advance, there can be more fun for you—no need to tend bar—and more fun for your guests, who can help themselves whenever they want.

Here we whip up a pitcher of the Caipirinha (kuy-per-REEN-yah), Brazil’s national drink, which is made with cachaça (kah-SHAH-sah), an unrefined sugar cane distillate that tastes like a cross between tequila and rum, with a slightly smoky character. Customarily, Caipirinhas are started by muddling lime wedges and sugar together. For this pitcher-drink version by Sharon Tyler Herbst, which appeared in Drinks magazine, we’re simply squeezing the limes and replacing the sugar with homemade brown sugar syrup, which adds a tropical cane syrup flavor. You can substitute vodka for the cachaça to make Caipiroskas, or substitute rum to make Caipirissimas. Cheers!


10 medium to large limes, washed and quartered
2 1 /2 cups cachaça
1 cup brown sugar syrup (see below)

Squeeze the juice from the lime quarters into a pitcher that holds at least 50 ounces drop the squeezed fruit into the pitcher. (Don’t knock yourself out to extract all of the lime juice—a brief squeeze will do.) Add cachaça, brown sugar syrup, and about 1 cup water stir briskly. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Fill 12-ounce double old-fashioned glasses almost full with crushed ice. Add 3 to 4 of the squeezed lime quarters to each glass top with drink mixture.

To make brown sugar syrup:
Bring 3 /4 cup of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 1 packed cup of dark brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature before using.

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If you can't find cachaça where you live, use a good vodka. The drink will then be called caipiroska. No vodka? Use white rum and you will have a caipiríssima.

According to Wikipedia:
The word "caipirinha" is the diminutive version of the word "caipira", which refers to someone from the countryside, being an almost exact equivalent of the American English hillbilly. The word may be used as either a masculine or a feminine noun, but when referring to this drink it is only feminine (usage of diminutives is common in Brazil). However, a Brazilian hardly ever thinks of a "country person" when ordering a "Caipirinha". In the mind of a Brazilian, the word "Caipirinha" is mostly associated with the drink itself.

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User Lists


Post a comment about this drink:

Of course. That gives you a Caipiroska.

Comment by David on 2010-10-19 19:45:44

can you use vodka instead ?

Comment by oOG3RRYOo on 2010-10-19 11:56:52

Added by David on 2009-07-04 18:20:45
Last updated on 2018-06-10 16:30:15
Status: Approved

Related Video

Yum! I love passion fruit juice and was looking for a cocktail that didn't require the whole fruit. This was delicious.

In Brazil we don´t make passion fruit caipirinha with lemon, is only passion fruit ,sugar and cachaça,but I liked yours.

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  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Serves 1 to 2

Ingredients US Metric

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 large lime), or less to taste
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces cane liquor (cachaça), or less to taste
  • 1 cup crushed ice cubes
  • 1 lime wheel, for garnish


Pour the lime juice into a cocktail shaker and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve.

Pour in the cachaça and crushed ice. Shake well.

Empty the contents of the shaker into a martini glass and garnish with the lime.

Pineapple Caipirinha

For a slightly more tropical spin on the caipirinha, swap 1 teaspoon pineapple juice for 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Jean Carrillo

This drink knocks your socks off! We did 5 rounds of testing over 2 days to decide how we liked it best. The way it's written it's really good, though a bit tart for our taste.

The addition of just 1 teaspoon of fresh pineapple juice balanced the flavors out made it a "wow" for us. We also preferred the drink shaken vice stirred.

We've decided that this will be our summer drink this year!

Irene Seales

The sum of these few ingredients produces a nice drink that you can enjoy while sipping and swirling. In fact, as the fresh pineapple swirls in the drink and the ice melts a bit, the drink becomes more enjoyable, so be sure and stir it all well.

I used a relatively young Cachaça (Ypióca Brasilizar Cachaça Prata Classica, aged one year) and as this was a new flavor for me. Initially it was more startling, but had a necessary edge. To confirm that, I also tried a version with a white rum I had on hand, with longer aging in oak (Flor de Caña) but found that it was not as interesting as the Cachaça.

I served this in a rounded, stemless glass and found it went down all too easily, so I was glad I had split it between two of us although one would have been lovely all to myself.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


According to the definition published in 2003 in the Decree N° 4851, caipirinha is a “typical Brazilian beverage, with alcoholic level of 15 to 36% in volume, at 20 degrees Celsius, that is mixed exclusively with cachaça, with the addition of lime and sugar”.

Yes, there is an actual decree that defines caipirinha in Brazil! Despite the huge popularity of this cocktail, it wasn’t until the last decade that caipirinha was made an official Brazilian drink.

Caipirinha has acquired an international status and recognition over the past few decades. The International Barmen Association even included the Brazilian beverage among the select few contemporary classic cocktails of the world.

What are the origins of caipirinha?

The word caipirinha is derived from caipira, a Brazilian term that defines a yokel, hillbilly, or more generally a “naive person from the countryside”.

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There are several stories when it comes to the origin of this cocktail.

One of the most accepted stories states that caipirinha has originated in the state of São Paulo towards the end of World War I. The original caipirinha recipe consisted of cachaça, lemon, honey and garlic and it was initially prepared as an elixir for patients suffering from the Spanish Flu. Lemon was used for its high vitamin C content and cachaça contained the alcohol needed to facilitate and accelerate the absorption of the vitamins into in the body.

Although it is generally accepted that caipirinha was initially created in the interior of Minas Gerais or Sao Paulo, land of caipiras (countrymen), it is in Paraty, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, that the oldest known record for this cocktail was found.

Indeed, historian Diuner Mello discovered a document dated from 1856, which references a recipe for a similar cocktail in a discussion about an epidemic of cholera in the area. This document describes a recipe, which seems to be the origin of what is now called caipirinha:

“because [of the concern with cholera and water], by necessity we began mixing medium aguardiente with water, sugar and limes, because it was prohibited to drink straight water.” (Official Register of the Mayor, pages 139, 1856)

Other historians state that caipirinha might have an origin in Santos, on the coast of São Paulo, the region where the first distilleries of cachaça were developed.

Another story gives credit to Carlota Joaquina, Queen consort of Portugal and Princess consort of Brazil, who first mixed cachaça with indigenous Brazilian fruits.

And yet another theory attributes the caipirinha recipe to Portuguese slave traders who added limes to their cachaça to prevent scurvy, a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, on the long trip back to Europe.

At the time of WWI, most of Brazil’s cachaça production was concentrated around the inland town of Piracicaba, where people started drinking caipirinha as we know it today. As soon as the new drink reached the much larger city of Santos, a port in the state of Sao Paulo, it started being called caipirinha.

Over time, caipirinha began to spread throughout Brazil, but it wasn’t until 1922 that it started getting international recognition. That year, Brazilian modernists picked caipirinha to serve as the official drink of Brazil at the Modern Art Week event. The new Brazilian cocktail was then brought to Paris by French modernists and it took on the world from there.

What is cachaça?

Cachaça is indeed the primary ingredient in a caipirinha, but also in other drinks such as batida, a mixture of cachaça and fruit or fruit juice mixtures, as well as the winter drink called quentão, the Brazilian version of mulled wine.

Like rum, it is a distilled spirit made from sugarcane. However, the major difference between cachaça and rum is that rum is typically made from sugarcane molasses, while “Brazilian rum” or cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is fermented and distilled.

The word cachaça may have been originally derived from the word cachaço, which was used to pickle or preserve pork.

Other sources also attribute the name to African captives who worked in sugarcane mills. They gave the name to the foam that collected at the top of the kettles where sugarcane was boiled. This foam, which was then fermented it, was called cachaça.

Cachaça is definitely an institution in the country known for partying hard! There are more than 2,000 words to refer to the spirit, like água-benta (holy water), limpa-olho (eye-wash), bafo-de-tigre (tiger breath) or even abre-coração (heart-opener).

Sugarcane first originated in the South Pacific. It was then was brought to India. It is there that around 500 BC, sugar would be extracted from it for the first time. From India, it migrated to the Middle East before arriving in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and other Atlantic islands. From these islands, it was brought to Brazil, where it transformed the northeastern region of the country into the kingdom of sugarcane. From the sixteenth century on, sugarcane became the main export product of the colony. Brazil is nowadays the first sugarcane producer in the world with 739,300 thousand metric tons, more than twice the production of India, #2 producer in the world.

The earliest reports of cachaça production date to about 1610 in the state of Bahia, although cachaça production probably began soon after the introduction of sugarcane into Brazil around 1550. Initially, cachaça was used medicinally but also as a special treat for slaves during festivals.

For centuries, cachaça was produced almost exclusively for slaves, natives, sailors and the lower classes of Brazil. The Brazilian upper class regarded cachaça as a poor man’s drink, preferring instead imported wines, whiskeys and cognacs.

It eventually became popular, even among the masters, and was finally transformed into an export product.

The Brazilian term for cachaça, pinga (drip), originated from the vapor produced by the slow process to ferment the liquid, which condensed as it went up and dripped. The pinga would hurt when it fell on the slaves, which explains the origin of another name for it: aguardente, a combination of the words água (water) and ardente (burning). Yes, the same origin as firewater in English!

How to make caipirinha

The recipe for the caipirinha drink is quite simple. The caipirinha ingredients are lime, sugar, cachaça and ice. However, there are a few tips to follow to perfect this easy recipe:

  • Always discard the upper and bottom caps of the limes, as they introduce a bitter taste.
  • Split the lime in half and cut out the middle pit from both pieces, as they also contribute to the bitterness.
  • Always muddle the lime with sugar. The abrasive sugar crystals will help with grinding the lime.
  • Don’t muddle the lime too hard. Squeezing too much will also make the drink too bitter.
  • Muddle the limes face down with the green skin facing up.

This recipe is validated by our Brazilian culinary expert Denise Browning, author of culinary blog From Brazil to you.