The Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail. Made with cachaça, limes and sugar, it tastes more complex than its ingredients would suggest. And given its straightforward makeup, it’s a great template for experimentation, just like another three-part drink, the Daiquiri.
First made in the 1500s, cachaça is similar to rum, but with a unique flavor that’s 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 Pineapple Mint Caipirinha.
When making this cocktail, you have options for the cachaça; just be sure to use one of the many unaged varieties that are available. This will ensure the spirit’s flavors shine through and complement the fresh pineapple and mint. Aged expressions, which tend to feature richer oak accents, will change the flavor of the drink and dial down its summery refreshment.
Resist the urge to mash the ingredients into a pulp with your muddler. Instead, press gently on the pineapple and mint. This method will extract all the pineapple juice and minty aromatics without shredding the mint, as beating up the herb releases bitter compounds you don’t want in this drink.
4 1.5-inch pineapple chunks
2 mint leaves
1 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces unaged cachaça
Garnish: pineapple wedge
In a shaker, muddle the pineapple chunks, mint leaves and simple syrup.
Add the cachaça and ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
Pour (unstrained) into a rocks glass.
Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Caipirinha: The three-ingredient classic that hails from Brazil.
Raspberry Caipirinha: Muddles raspberries for a bright-red color and fresh berry flavor.
Honey Kumquat Caipirinha: Adds honey, kumquats and falernum to the original.
Caipiroska: Substitutes vodka for cachaça