I could drink a ‘Brazillian’ of these!
Bom Dia! (Portuguese for ‘good day’) is one of my all-time, favorite phrases — such a spirited way to greet someone! It always brought a laughing smile to my face when complete strangers on the streets of Salvador or Rio de Janeiro would extend their friendly salutation to me while I was on an exchange program in Brazil (during my much younger days).
Brazil is a lot like Singapore. We both have energetic, multicultural societies that love to LIVE, whether it’s through eating good food or expressing ourselves through song (KTV!) and dance. We are all children of the sun and appreciate good shade and a cool drink when the weather is extra sweltering.
And so, I grew up beating the heat by slurping sugarcane juice (with lemon please!) at my local hawker centre and later graduated to imbibing minty mojitos at Zouk (like any cool girl, duh). It was no surprise that I was instantly hooked when I tried for the first-time a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail that is a dangerously refreshing (and simple) muddling of sugarcane liquor, freshly-cut limes, superfine sugar and ice cubes. So familiar and refreshing! A samba in my mouth! You get the point…
Coming back to Singapore, I was a caipirinha ambassador to my brunch friends — the annoying girl that always asked the waiter “Hey! So I tried this drink before, would you happen to be able to whip up a…”
Thus, the caipirinha ended up being a go-to staple for our weekend, day-drinking therapy sessions. Like Singaporean men, the drink quality was usually all over the place but when you found a good one — you held on for dear life! I think I’m still talking about an alcoholic drink?
During the circuit breaker, my friends and I missed our usual alcoholic-fueled gossip sessions and so I (literally) tried my hand at reproducing my favorite, Latin American cocktail. Here’s what I found after many failures and more drunken weekday afternoons than I care to admit.
Caipirinha = kai-purr-REEN-yah
Cachaça = ka-SHA-suh
Old Fashioned Glass
3 ounces (90 milliliters) cachaça
1 lime, quartered
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
Cut the lime in half, lengthwise, and remove the white pith in the middle.
Put the lime pieces with the flesh up in the glass, and add the sugar on top.
With the muddler, gently press the lime pieces to release the juice.
Add the ice cubes and cachaça, and stir vigorously.
If you wish, you can garnish the glass with a lime slice.
Tricks of the Trade
A good caipirinha is defined by the quality of its sugarcane liquor, which is called cachaça and is produced exclusively in Brazil (kind of like French Champagne and Scotch Scotch). A good one I found that is surprisingly Singaporean-founded but still crafted in Brazil is Maracatu.
- Some places make bitter caipirinhas, Avoid doing that by removing the white piths of your lime when you cut it into quarters. Muddle gently by squeezing the juice out of your limes but not bruising the limes
- Use superfine sugar so that it dissolves easily when you muddle
- Follow the rule of thirds: divide your glass into thirds of lime, ice, and cachaca
- Feel free to add tamarind!