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Camparinha

Camparinha cocktail
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, has served as the starting point for plenty of spin-offs, most famously the Caipiroska, which swaps the country’s beloved spirit cachaça for vodka. This kumquat-fueled variation from bar pro Naren Young, formerly of Dante in New York City and now the creative beverage director at Sweet Liberty in Miami, retains the spirit of the original, but skips the lime in favor of kumquats and also calls for an ounce of Campari, yielding a drink that is sweet, sour, bitter, and—despite its pun-fueled name—no joking matter.

The Caipirinha dates back centuries: Some historians believe the refreshing concoction of lime, sugar, and cachaça was a remedy for illness in the early 1900s, while others say it was invented by Brazilian farmers in the 19th century to showcase the sugarcane plant. Kumquats lend a fresh twist to this modern version. 

The tiny citrus fruits, which appear on shelves stateside as early as November and as late as April, boast a flavor that lies somewhere between a lime and a tangerine. They notoriously don’t contain much juice, which you might think would render them useless for cocktail-making, but Young has found a way around the kumquat conundrum: By muddling them in the glass with raw sugar, he draws out as much juice as possible while also releasing the essence of the peel, which is in fact a bit sweeter than the pulp. 

Like the Caipirinha, this cocktail gets built entirely in the glass. Mixing the muddled kumquat with equal parts cachaça and Campari creates a cross-cultural drink if there ever were one. Similar in style and flavor to rum, Brazil’s national spirit is distilled from fresh sugarcane juice rather than molasses, yielding grassier, funkier flavors. Meanwhile, Italy’s most famous bitter aperitivo plays off the sweet-tartness of the kumquats and gives the cocktail both its cheeky name and its blazing hue.

The Camparinha is as refreshing as its Brazilian predecessor but comes with a bite. While its name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, this drink goes down easy. And you can snack on the muddled kumquats, peels and all, once you’ve drained your glass—the best way to make the most of the stubborn but flavorful fruit.

Ingredients

  • 4 kumquats, cut in half lengthwise

  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar

  • 1 ounce cachaça (such as Leblon)

  • 1 ounce Campari

Steps

  1. In a rocks glass, muddle the kumquats and the raw sugar.

  2. Add the cachaça and Campari, plus a scoop of crushed ice, and stir well.

  3. Top with more crushed ice.