The Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail. Prized for its bright, complex flavor, it’s enjoyed all over the country and, increasingly, all over the world. Its popularity has spurred numerous variations, as barkeeps regularly tweak the classic drink by adding fruits and liqueurs or subbing in different base spirits.
That’s the case with the Caipiroska. This simple riff on the Caipirinha eschews the traditional cachaça in favor of vodka. The former is Brazil’s national spirit. Similar to rum, it’s distilled from the fermented juice of sugar cane and characterized by its funky, grassy flavor. Vodka, on the other hand, sports a lighter, straightforward profile that yields a lighter-tasting cocktail.
For the best results, legendary bartender and author Tony Abou-Ganim suggests making this fresh, citrusy drink with “a clean, neutral vodka with fruity, floral notes—something made from corn, wheat or mixed grain, something gentle.”
The Caipiroska isn’t an obscure variation or merely a training-wheels version of the Caipirinha; it has gained traction in Brazil and neighboring South American countries, as more vodka brands enter the market and locals embrace the spirit.
The prescribed build for the Caipiroska is precise and worth following. Muddle the limes with the sugar to extract the oils from the lime peels, and you’ll enjoy a richer, tastier drink.
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce simple syrup (or 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar)
- 1 lime, cut into quarters
- Garnish: 4 lime quarters
Fill a rocks glass with cracked ice to chill, and set aside.
Add the simple syrup (or sugar) and lime quarters into a shaker.
Muddle to extract the juice without forcing the rind from the limes.
Dump the ice from the rocks glass into the shaker, add the vodka, and shake until well-chilled.
Pour the entire drink, including the ice, into the chilled glass, and garnish with 4 lime quarters.