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Recipes // Cocktails // Sugar and Lime Cocktail

Sugar and Lime Cocktail

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By Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Of all things Brazilian, you’ve probably heard of the caipirinha, our heraldic emblem and one of Brazil’s greatest contributions to the food and wine world. The spirit behind it, cachaça, was invented in the mid-1500s in Brazil when Portuguese colonizers began to cultivate sugarcane.

Somewhere in a sugar mill around São Paulo, some stems of rough sugarcane were forgotten, left to sit around, and fermented into a foamy juice. The drink, though non-alcoholic, had a strong effect on the body and was used as a painkiller.

Eventually the Portuguese decided to distill and age it, creating a new type of aguardente (spirit distilled from fruits or vegetables) and named it cachaça. There are many different kinds of wood (oak, cherry, and jequitibá rosa among them) used for aging the spirit, each leaving different traces of taste, some with a floral flavor, others with a hint of vanilla or cinnamon.

Cachaça was considered a poor man’s drink, and a disdain for it lingered for quite some time. But in Brazil there is a current wave of “waking up” to our own cuisine and ingredients; the culture has changed, and today cachaça couldn’t be more in style and caipirinhas have found a global audience.

In the United States cachaça is also called Brazilian rum, and the distillation process is quite similar. The difference between the two is that rum is distilled from molasses (which also comes from sugarcane), while cachaça is distilled from fresh sugarcane juice. Good cachaça has an intense aroma and the flavor of fresh sugarcane.

If you would like to sniff deeper and choose from a selection of hundreds of different cachaças, step off of the beach for an afternoon and visit Academia da Cachaça, a rickety bar devoted entirely to the spirit. You can taste cachaça until you end up under the table, or you can do what I do: I practice my devotion eating some petiscos (bar food) with a caipirinha on the side. The food at Academia da Cachaça is just as amazing as the caipirinhas.

Serves 1

Ingredients: 

  • 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • cachaça
  • Ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Cut the two ends off the lime and cut the lime into medium wedges.
  2. Using a muddler, mash the lime with the sugar, making sure to squeeze out all the juice and to dissolve the sugar in the juice.
  3. Transfer the lime mixture to a shaker. Add the cachaça and ice cubes, shake well (8 to 10 times), and pour into a large (but not tall), sturdy glass.
  4. Serve immediately.
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