The classic Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail. Composed of just three ingredients—cachaça (Brazil’s national spirit), fresh limes and sugar—it’s a cultural institution throughout the South American country and one of its most popular exports.
First made in the 1500s, cachaça is similar to rum, but with a unique flavor all its own. Rather than being distilled from molasses, it’s made from fermented sugar cane juice. This important difference yields a bold spirit that is characterized by its funky, grassy flavors, which stand out when mixed into drinks like the Honey Kumquat Caipirinha.
This aptly named cocktail comes from H. Joseph Ehrmann, the proprietor of Elixir in San Francisco. It features fresh kumquats, in addition to lime, and is sweetened with honey and falernum (a Caribbean liqueur with flavors of lime, ginger, almonds and spice) rather than the traditional sugar.
The result is recognizable as a Caipirinha, but the honey-falernum combination creates a richer flavor profile than the classic, and the kumquats lend their trademark citrusy notes. Another unique characteristic of this cocktail is that it’s shaken and then poured unstrained into the serving glass, complete with the broken ice and bruised fruit. It looks like a colorful garden in your glass.
1/2 lime, cut into pieces
1 1/2 ounces Leblon cachaça
1/2 ounce falernum
1 ounce clover honey syrup
In a shaker, muddle the kumquats and lime.
Add the cachaça, falernum and clover honey syrup with ice and shake lightly until chilled.
Pour (unstrained) into a double Old Fashioned glass.
Raspberry Caipirinha: A riff on the classic that muddles raspberries for a bright-red color and fresh berry flavor.
Pineapple Mint Caipirinha: A tropical, fruit-forward version that calls for fresh pineapple and mint.
Caipiroska: A simple variation that swaps out cachaça in favor of vodka.