Caipirinha and Churrasco—A Successful Partnership
Picture yourself at a typical Brazilian churrasco. If you’re in some kind of farm resort, the churrasqueiro (cook) may be wearing traditional Gaucho clothes—probably to entertain the tourists. If you’re at a more civilized cookout, he might be in a personalized apron with a slogan like, “Bring the meat and I’ll roast it!” embroidered on it. At a more informal setting, he may even have no shirt on because of the heat. (Not my favorite sight!) One of his hands is certainly busy, turning the skewers or stirring the fire. But the scene is sure to be incomplete unless there’s a glass with some lime, lots of ice, and cachaça in his other hand. That’s Brazil’s national cocktail: caipirinha.
The “Hick Drink” Takes Over the World
You could translate the name caipirinha to “Little Hick,” or perhaps “Hick Girl”. It’s a reference to the caipiras (or “hicks”), as the inhabitants of São Paulo State countryside. This is the region that created this drink.
Some people believe that caipirinha was created around 1918 from a recipe to treat the Spanish flu. This home remedy was made with lemon, garlic, honey, and a little alcohol (added to speed up its therapeutic effect). Later the garlic and honey were removed, a little sugar and ice were added, and Brazil had a national cocktail to take pride in.
Historians, on the other hand, argue that it was the sugarcane barons who came up with a drink to serve at parties and other high society events, about the mid-19th century. As time went by, due to the affordability of its ingredients, caipirinha became a popular favorite, gaining nationwide—and later worldwide—prestige. Now there’s even a law ruling how one must prepare the genuine caipirinha!
Although churrasco and caipirinha have very different origins, they’ve become inseparable companions. As described above, wherever there’s a barbecue in Brazil, it’s a cinch the cook and guests will be sipping from a glass of caipirinha. (Of course, ice-cold beer is another strong possibility!)
Would you like to try making Brazil’s national cocktail yourself? It’s easy! You’ll just need:
- an Old Fashioned (or whiskey) glass;
- 1 lime;
- 2 tablespoons of sugar;
How to prepare:
Cut off both tips of the lime and make a V-shaped cut into it to remove its middle portion (the white fibers, which can leave a bitter taste). Then, cut the lime in smaller pieces and mix it with the sugar in the Old Fashioned glass. Mash the lime and the sugar together using a muddler. Finally, fill up the glass with crushed ice and complete it with cachaça. Enjoy it!
(Click here to see a tutorial video of another recipe.)
Suggestion: You may want to add some variety, replacing the cachaça with vodka, rum, sake, or red wine. Check also some variations with different fruit.
After tasting it, you’ll see why caipirinha and churrasco are such a successful partnership!