Caipirinha is a Brazilian cocktail made with just three ingredients: cachaça, sugar and lime. Could there be a simpler and more refreshing drink?

Great cocktails are often made with a small selection of simple ingredients. Just rum, sugar, and lime make a classic daiquiri. If you change the base from rum to cachaça, a liqueur made primarily from sugar cane, you have a caipirinha, arguably Brazil’s national drink.

A caipirinha is as easy to prepare as the short list of ingredients would suggest. However, its taste is more complex than you can imagine. Are you looking for a refreshing cocktail to recover from the summer heat? You have found your match!

A caipirinha (pronounced kai-pee-reen-ya) is a cocktail made with cachaça (pronounced cow-shah-suh), a Brazilian liqueur made from fermented sugar cane, sugar and lime. This cocktail is refreshingly sweet and tart, and the cachaça adds some grassy and herbaceous flavors.

Caipirinha Origins

There are a few theories as to how the caipirinha came about. One story suggests it was made for its medicinal properties. Another claims it was simply a drink enjoyed by locals for parties. The truth is that there is no clear origin story, but sometimes the best drinks come from hazy origins.

So what is cachaça?

Brazil wants you to know that cachaça is NOT rum as many people assume. While rum is made from molasses, the by-product of sugar production, cachaça is made from the juice of sugar cane.

And although Rhum Agricole is also made from the juice of sugar cane, these two spirits differ in that Cachaça’s alcohol content (ABV) is much lower at 38 to 48 percent while Rhum Agricole is over 70 percent.

It is an expression of both Brazilian sugar cane production and distinct regional flavors – the taste of cachaça varies depending on the part of the country where it was grown (the terroir), distillation methods and aging techniques.

There are over 3,000 cachaça distilleries in Brazil. However, only a fraction of these bottles are offered here in the USA. In 2013, the US officially recognized cachaça as a distinct category of spirits, rather than just another rum. We saw how many different brands of cachaça were imported.

Cachaça is available in most liquor stores and if you don’t see it on the shelves where you live, ask if they can order some for you!

How to make Caipirinha

The order in which you prepare the caipirinha is important. Begin by mixing together the sugar and quartered limes. The granulated sugar will rub against the lime peels and release the oils, and the ejected lime juice will help the sugar dissolve.

Then pour some crushed ice on top. Finally pour in the cachaça. The crushed ice will melt when the cachaça is poured over it, properly diluting the drink. This is important as this cocktail will not be shaken.

Tips and tricks for making caipirinha

When it comes to preparing a simple cocktail, it’s all about ingredients and technique. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your caipirinha taste great.

  • In many recipes you will be advised to use fine or even powdered sugar. Not. You grind the lime peels with the sugar and need some abrasion to release the oils. Granulated sugar will do that. Anything finer will dissipate before you even start messing with the limes.
  • Muddling can mean many things to many people, so let’s talk about that for a second here. The purpose of muddling is to grind the sugar with the lime juice and oils from its zest. You lightly mash the sugar with quartered limes, perhaps stirring everything as you go. You don’t want to shred the lime quarters—you’ve gone too far at this point.
  • The taste of a caipirinha depends on the brand of cachaça used. If the opportunity arises to try a few, it might help you find what’s right for you. I use Leblon, a relatively grassy and offbeat tasting cachaça that could benefit from a bit more sugar to balance it out. Novo Fogo is fruitier and sweeter, so you can cut back on the sugar a bit.
  • Consider the lime. Look for a plump, juicy one that will add some liquid to your cocktail. Avoid anything that looks dry and wilted. Depending on how tart or sweet the limes are, you may need to add more or less sugar. Give it a little taste before preparing the cocktail.

In which to serve caipirinha

A heavy-bottomed glass is ideal because you need to have a heavy hand when preparing the limes. I use a Double Rocks glass as it has some room to maneuver and doesn’t feel crowded with lime and ice.

More Puckery cocktails to try

  • Hemingway Daiquiri
  • Pitcher Frozen Margaritas
  • Pisco sour
  • Mojito Cocktail
  • Penicillin cocktail


preparation time
5 minutes

total time
5 minutes

1 cocktail


  • 1 all lime

  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • crushed Ice To serve

  • 2 1/2 ounces cachaça


  1. Quarter lime:

    Cut the ends off the lime. Quarter the lime lengthways.

  2. Crush lime and sugar:

    Place the quartered lime in a Double Rocks glass and sprinkle with sugar. Mash the limes and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the limes have fully released their juices.

  3. Add ice cream and cachaça:

    Fill the glass with crushed ice and pour the cachaça over the ice. Stir gently to combine and serve.

nutritional information (per serving)
233 calories
0g Fat
22g carbohydrates
1g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!