Food & Drink

Brazil's caipirinha is perfect for Iowa summers

A Bite of Brazil | Alexandra Olsen

Brazil's national drink, the caipirinha, is refreshing and easy to make. (Alexandra Olsen)
Brazil’s national drink, the caipirinha, is refreshing and easy to make. (Alexandra Olsen)
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The heat and humidity of Iowa’s summers is not unlike Brazil’s climate in many parts of the country.

Learning to live with the heat is how Brazilians perfected the age-old recipe of caipirinha, a simple cocktail made with limes, sugar and cachaca.

Cachaca is a potent spirit distilled from fermented sugar cane juice. It can be a little tricky to find in Midwestern grocery stores, though not impossible. Its flavor can be described as “funky,” just what you might expect from fermentation.

Because of this distinctive taste, younger generations in Brazil have taken to using vodka instead when making caipirinha.

Though I highly encourage you to search for cachaca and take a chance on the unique flavor — and possible health benefits — of this grown-up limeade.

According to Brazilian lore, caipirinha was believed to help cure the Spanish flu a century ago. Although I cannot vouch for this claim, I can tell you that this drink does help quarantine feel more like a trip to my home country.

You also can add any fruit you’d like to your glass. The simple recipe can be modified easily, which makes it perfect for customization. My personal favorite add-in is strawberry.

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Caipirinha is traditionally served in a large glass that then is passed around to everyone at the summer gathering, from the cookout to the beach. For now, having your own glass filled to the brim is perfectly acceptable.

Follow Alexandra Olsen on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.

Recipe

Caipirinha

Original

1 lime

3 tablespoons of sugar

2 shots of vodka or cachaca

Ice

Strawberry flavor

1/2 lime

2 strawberries

3 tablespoons of sugar

2 shots of vodka or cachaca

Ice

Start by muddling chosen fruits and sugar in your cup. If you do not have a muddler you can use the back of a wooden spoon.

Add vodka or cachaca into the cup and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Top off with ice.

Source: Alexandra Olsen

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