* You are viewing the archive for December, 2007


The Caipirinha (kye-pa-REEN-ya) is the national cocktail of Brazil, made with their national spirit, cachaça (ka-SHA-sa). Cachaça is distilled from sugar cane juice, which makes it similar to rhum agricole and agricole-style rums, but differs in that cachaça is only made in Brazil, and the aged varieties of cachaça are stored in wooden barrels made from a wide range of exotic tropical woods which lend unique flavors to the spirit. It’s got a great earthy, spicy, vegetal flavor that’s quite distinct from a molasses-based rum. Cachaça is the third most consumed spirit in the world after vodka and soju (shochu), and is currently the fastest growing spirit in North America. Keep an eye out.

Caipirinhas are very refreshing and relatively simple to make. All you need is good cachaça and a good muddler (and a little elbow grease). Myriad variations exist, in which the basic lime is joined by grapes, cherries, kumquats or other fruits, and flavored or spiced syrups can be used for sweetening. If you substitute rum for cachaça the drink becomes a Caipirissima, and with a vodka substitution is a Caipiroska.

When preparing the lime, cut the tips off each end before cutting it up. If your limes are small you can use the whole thing, cutting in half then quartering each half. For the larger, more typical Persian limes, use half a lime as indicated below.


2-1/2 ounces cachaça.
1/2 to 1 lime, quartered.
1 tablespoon bar sugar.

Using a double rocks glass, fill the glass with ice and add to a shaker. In the glass muddle the lime quarters with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved and all the juice and a goodly amount of the lime oil is pressed from the peel. Add to the ice in the shaker and shake for 10 seconds, then pour the entire contents — ice, lime hulls and all, back into the glass and serve. The spent lime pieces are your garnish.

Watch master bartender Chris McMillan make one for us.


Cocktail of the Day: The Dandy

There’s a lovely new book I’m in the middle of at the moment, called How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten, author of the “How’s Your Drink?” column in the Wall Street Journal. I came across this one in a passage on Dubonnet, and thought of our lonely bottle of Dubonnet in the back of the fridge, and how I’d better remember it and use it before it goes off. Eric thoughtfully provided a recipe that I hadn’t tried before, and it was fantastic.

I would normally stir a cocktail like this, which contains only spirits, liqueur and wine, but the action of the shaking releases oils from the lemon and orange peels. If you’re a stickler about stirring clear cocktails, muddle the peels briefly before adding the ingredients and ice.

The Dandy Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces rye whiskey (we used Sazerac 6).
1-1/2 ounces Dubonnet rouge.
1/2 ounce Cointreau.
1 dash Angostura bitters.
Long strip of lemon peel.
Long strip of orange peel.

Combine with cracked ice in a shaker, and shake vigorously for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.

This cocktail is delightfully wintry, with the spices of the Dubonnet and the bitters playing nicely together. I might even flame an orange peel over this one.