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Caipirinha – Brazil’s Traditional Cocktail

Caipirinha is Brazil’s National Cocktail and one of the classic and well-known cocktails in the world. It’s the refreshing cocktail you can savor in Rio de Janeiro while sitting on one of the most famous beaches in the world, Copacabana or Ipanema Beach.

What does Caipirinha mean?

The name of Caipirinha Cocktail comes from the feminine diminutive of “caipira,” a term used for the countryside inhabitants of south-central Brazil.

READ MORE: Date Shake – the unofficial drink of Palm Springs

Caipirinha History

It is said that Caipirinha has Portuguese origins and dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1918, a drink made with aguardente de cana (the predecessor of Cachaca), lemon, honey, and garlic, was used as a medicine for patients with Spanish flu in the region of Alentejo in Portugal. In time, the recipe changed: garlic and honey were removed, and two teaspoons of sugar and ice were added to fight the heat.

Another account suggests Caipirinha originated in the region of Sao Paolo, being invented by the sugarcane landlords as a drink for high-class events and parties.

No matter which of the origin stories is true, Caipirinha is today Brazil’s National Cocktail, a drink so deeply embedded in its national heritage.


Caipirinhas and Caipifrutas sold on the beach in Rio de Janeiro

Caipirinha ingredients

Caipirinha ingredients are fresh limes, sugar, and Cachaca, a traditional distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice.

What is a good substitute for Cachaca?

The best Caipirinha is made with Cachaca, but if you can’t find it, a good substitute for Cachaca is Rum. You can also substitute Cachaca with Vodka, and the resulting cocktail will be a Caipiroska.


What does a Caipirinha taste like?

Caipirinha’s predominant taste comes from its two essential ingredients: it’s a combination of citrus flavors from the limes and spices from the sugarcane Cachaca. It’s similar to a Mojito, but it lacks the mint, and it’s more spiced.

Caipirinha Variations

Caipifruta: like Caipirinha, Caipifruta is a very popular drink in Brazil. It’s a cocktail with Cachaca and crushed tropical fruits, and crushed ice. Passionfruit, mango, pineapple, and kiwi are the most common fruits used to make a refreshing Caipifruta.

Caipiroska: Caipirinha made with vodka instead of cachaca.

Caipirissima: Caipirinha made with rum instead of cachaca.


Caipifruta with passionfruit on Copacabana Beach

How to Make a Caipirinha


  • Half a lime cut into four pieces;
  • 2 Teaspoons sugar (demerara sugar, but you can use regular sugar as well)
  • 2 Ounces Cachaca
  • Ice

In an old-fashioned glass, mix and muddle the lime pieces and sugar. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add Cachaca, stirring well all the ingredients.

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