The classic caipirinha is the mother of all Brazilian cocktails. This refreshing 3-ingredient drink, is the perfect treat for spending a great summer afternoon with your amigos and familia. It’s a delicious cocktail that pairs wonderfully with a churrasco, and all things grilled. Your summer bbq festas will never be the same! – recipe makes 2 servings.
Love tropical drinks? Don’t forget to try Passion Fruit Caipirinha!
About this Brazilian cocktail
We Brazilians know what a caipirinha is, well before we’re even legally allowed to drink one. They’re very much part of our social life, and a part of our culture. Not only are they in restaurants and bars all over the country, I think it’s fair to say that every Brazilian knows how to make a caipirinha, or at least knows what’s in it.
In my family, Caipirinhas are something we primarily drink at home, during our weekend churrasco parties or a Sunday Feijoada. I first learned how to make caipirinha from my brothers, but then my sister-in-law Simone taught me her secret to make it wayyyyy BETTER! Now, her caipirinha recipe is one of our family jewels, and we’re sharing it with you!
What’s special about our family recipe is that we add lots of fruit! While most recipes tell you to just muddle limes with sugar, my sister-in-law taught me that to take a classic caipirinha from good to GREAT, we need to add an extra splash of lime juice.
This little family secret makes all the difference without changing the true identity of this classic drink. I hope you love it as much as my family does!
Cheers, or as we say in Portuguese, saúde!
What is caipirinha
Caipirinha, pronouced kai-pee-reen-ya, is Brazil’s national cocktail! It’s made with limes, sugar, ice and cachaça, a Brazilian distilled liquor made from the fermentation of raw sugarcane juice.
Now, story time!! Some time around 1918, the Portuguese were mixing strong liquor with garlic, lemon and honey as a home remedy to treat colds. Same thing was being done in Brazil, where the liquor of choice was the cachaça. At some point, the honey was replaced with sugar because of the abundance of sugarcane plantations, and the garlic just stopped being added. The drink became so popular that people started to drink it at parties for fun, rather than just to treat sickness. And just like that, meus amigos, the classic caipirinha was born!
Legend also says that the adaptation from “remedy” to cocktail took place in the rural area of the state of São Paulo, where people are known as caipira, inspiring the name of the drink. The name caipirinha, which basically means hillbilly, is the word caipira in the diminutive form.
Nowadays, there are a number of deliciously different flavors of caipirinha, some mixing fruits as well as herbs and spices. But the classic caipirinha is made with nothing more than:
This is a super simple grown up treat that’s easy to learn and master. Check out the step by step instructions below!
How to Make Caipirinha
– recipe makes 2 servings
- Juice 3 limes
Until you have about 1/3 of a cup of juice – this is THE secret!
- Cut the other 2 limes in 8 parts each
These are the chunks we’ll muddle
- Add the cut limes, and 3 tablespoons of sugar to the cup and muddle
muddle, muddle, muddle!!
- Add the lime juice and 3/4 cup of cachaça and stir gently
about 2 minutes, until the sugar dissolves
- Add ice to 2 glasses and fill them with caipirinha
Cachaça is a Brazilian distilled liquor made from the fermentation of raw sugarcane juice.
Officially, cachaça is a type of rum. Although they’re both made from sugar cane, the main difference between the two is that cachaça is made from the fermentation of fresh/raw sugarcane juice, while rum is made from sugarcane byproducts like molasses.
Cachaça is pretty reasonably priced, and here in California is fairly easy to find in liquor stores such as BevMo, and even smaller local ones too. I’ve even seen it in grocery stores like Vons.
There are plenty of online stores who sell them as well – just google where to buy cachaça and google will show you online stores where you can order from and local options as well. Also, when in doubt, your local Brazilian markets will have it for sure!
In Brazil there are a number of cachaças to choose from varying from artisanal to industrial. Internationally, these are the ones we typically have to choose from, Leblon being one of my personal favorites, and what I used in this recipe.
Ypióca has been in the business of making cachaça since 1843, being one of the oldest, most traditional brands. They were also the first brand to ever bottle the drink in liter bottles in the 1900’s, making them more widely accessible.
This cocktail goes great with these summer recipes:
- Picanha – Brazilian Culotte Steaks
- Cilantro Garlic Bread
- Grilled Butterflied Chicken
- Brazilian Potato Salad
- Brazilian Salsa
- Grilled Wings and Cilantro Chimichurri
Other drinks recipes:
- Caipirinha de Maracuja – Brazilian Passion Fruit Cocktail
- Brazilian Hot Chocolate
- Batida de Coco – Brazilian Coconut Cocktail
How to Make Caipirinha
- 5 whole limes
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 cup cachaça
- ice to taste
- juice 3 of the limes and set aside - you'll want about a 1/3 of a cup of juice, give or take
- cut the other 2 limes in 8 pieces each
- Add the sugar and the lime pieces to a cup and muddle until you've juiced all the little pieces and they're nicely combined with the sugar
- add the lime juice and the cachaça to the muddled limes and stir gently to dissolve the sugar - approx. 2 minutes
- fill 2 cups with ice, and top them with caipirinha
So excited to see this recipe! I had one of these at a Brazilian steak house recently and *loved* it, so I’ll be trying this soon. (And I love knowing what the name means now, that will be a fun story when we serve them to guests.) 🙂
Yay!! I’m excited you’re excited ahaha Let me know how it turns out!! Beijos xx
Never thought it would be that easy 🙂
Awesome recipe, thanks again!
Yes – easy peasy! 🙂
I’ve never heard of this cocktail and look forward to trying it some day! It looks delicious and I loved learning about it’s history. I’m going to look for the liquor at the store in my town and hopefully get to make this for a cookout this summer.
I can’t wait for you to try it, Brittany! Let me know if you have a hard time finding cachaça, and I’ll help you get it someway.
This cocktail looks amazing! I’m loving all that Lime flavor!
I know 🙂 All that lime is what makes it super fresh and amazing! I love it too!!
It’s easy to mess up a caipirinha. I loved this recipe! I don’t like very sweet drinks and don’t like when the taste of alcohol is very overpowering. And this recipe was the perfect balance. I didn’t have a muddle, and even though I had to improvise, it was still easy to make. My past weekend was filled with Brazilian flavors. Caipirinha and garlic bread 🙂
I love that you improvised on the muddler with your ‘jeitinho Brasileiro’ <3 hahaha That's awesome! So happy you loved the recipe and had a fun weekend with it plus loads of garlic bread - sounds like the perfect weekend to me!! Beijinhos!!
Thanks for the education on caiprinha–I’ve never tried it but now I’m excited!
Awesome, Jazz!! I hope you love it as much as I do!! xx
I’m off to search for cachaça in Pennsylvania. I can’t wait to try this.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, Dana!! I’m sure you’ll find some cachaca over there – keep me posted!! xx
This recipe is ahhh-mazing. I came across this blog and I knew I had to try this cocktail as soon as I saw it. I used the Leblon Brazilian rum that Aline recommended and I actually halved everything just to make one cocktail. It was perfect! I should’ve just made the two! Lol I love my mojitos but this cocktail is for sure my new favorite ! I can’t wait to explore this blog further! Cheers!
LOL!! I’m so happy you fell in love, Laurie!! Cheers!!
Holy Moly was this amazing! We made this for a dinner party and it was so simple, and so stellar! Everyone loved it! This is going to be our go-to cocktail from now on!
Woohoo!! So happy you and your guests enjoyed it!!
I love such refreshing and lime options. One of my favorite flavors.
Me too!! Happy summer – enjoy!
This is such a simple and elegant drink – just in time for Labor Day. I’ll be making a big batch!
Yea, girl!!! Enjoy!!
I have a lime tree and can’t wait to use the limes for this cocktail! Will be perfect for a girls night or sitting out in the garden!
Hi Jacqui!! I’m so jealous!!! I wish I had a lime tree too, I would have caipirinhas everyday!! ahaha and yes, sipping on this drink with friends is the best!! Enjoy!
It’s been so long since I’ve had a Caipirinha, but I love them! They are just about as much fun to say as they are to drink and I’m so glad I have your recipe to refer to!
Yes ahah Caipirinha is even better to say AFTER you’ve had a few LOL! Cheers!
I really, really enjoyed this post! Gorgeous photos and fantastic info (and tips)! We have dear friends who lived in Brazil for a time, and I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy a caipirinha a couple of times – so delicious! We always say that we simply MUST make them at home, but I never have – and now I have absolutely no excuses not to do it ASAP! Thank you so much!
Hi Shelley!! So so happy you liked the post!! Thank you! I’m happy to have inspired you get your caipirinha game on!! Keep me posted! Saude!
This looks so good! My husband loves limes so I’m going to have to make this for him. The pronunciation tip and FAQ section were super helpful too!
Super! I hope he loves drinking and saying it ahaha
Loved reading this post and learning what a caipirinha is! I am ALL about the cocktails. This looks and sounds so refreshing on a hot summer day! Can’t wait to try this at my next BBQ.
Yay!!! So happy that you liked discovering caipirinhas! Enjoy your summer! Cheers!
This is one of the first cocktails I ever had as a grown up but I had never made one myself until now. This is so good, so full of flavour and so fresh and zesty. love it and the instructions make it a no brainer (which I need as cocktails are not my forte)
That’s awesome, thank you! Caipirinhas are definitely super easy to make! Glad you like it! Cheers!
I’m so ready for happy hour looking at these photos! I have a bottle of cachaca in the liquor cabinet. I think it was a gift ? Never opened it but now I’m gonna muddle up some cocktails!
Open it!!!!! LOL! So excited you’re trying this Brazilian classic!
So refreshing! This is the perfect cocktail to sip on in the summer or when you just want something light and delicious. Loving all your fruit in this recipe, definitely going to enjoy this soon.
Yes, caipirinhas are great year long, but they are better in the summer!
YumI loved drinking these in Brazil and now I’m super stoked to make them myself! Thanks so much for sharing :).
My pleasure, Daniela! Enjoy! Cheers!!
I’ve never had caipirinha before. This looks so refreshing and delicious! I loved learning about the drink as well—I’m so happy your sister-in-law shares these secrets with you! I’m excited to try it this weekend!
Hey Amy, so happy you enjoyed learning about caipirinhas! And yes, my sister in law is the caipirinha queen in my family!! Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!!
Loved this, but did cut back on the Cachaca to 1/2 cup for 2 oz per drink. Will try this with simple syrup next time. Thank you.
You’re so welcome, Karen! Happy you enjoyed it 🙂
I just purchased a bottle of the Ypioca cachaca and I have no idea how to open it. Looks like a screw top, but other than spinning around, nothing is happening. Any ideas? Can’t wait to try the caipirinhas!
OMG! Really?? That’s so weird! All I can think of, maybe it also has a cork inside so maybe you need to spin and also pull up? The leblon one is kinda like that. Sorry – I hope this helps and that you can try caipis soon!!