Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Caipirinha

About 10 years ago, Jim and I made our first trip to New York City. I was going on a business trip to attend a three day workshop on Investment Performance (IP). What is IP you ask? Go here if you really want to know.  Actually, if you would like to know what I do for a living, take a look. Its a very fascinating field to work in. Some people may say my job is boring, but not me. 

Now back to the story. It's the week before Christmas and Manhattan is completely decked out for the holidays - both Christmas and Hanukkah. The city was beautiful.  Decorations in all the store windows, Santas everywhere and the smell of roasting nuts on almost every corner was absolutely sinful.  

Unfortunately, I didn't get to enjoy any roasted nuts on this trip. I had recently watched a 20/20 special about NYC food carts and how unsanitary many of them are. Since I didn't want to take any risks, I decided to opt out.  

Each night after my workshop, Jim and I headed out for a hopefully fabulous meal.  While sightseeing one evening a couple blocks off Broadway, we found a small dark hole-in-the wall restaurant named Brazil Brazil. The restaurant is on a lovely tree lined street with rows of Brownstones on either side.  The menu looked fantastic and the restaurant looked inviting.  

(Note: Even if you're not interested in this restaurant, click the link anyway just to enjoy the fantastic music.)

We walked in and got seated promptly. I don't exactly recall what we had for dinner that night, but I do know it was delicious.  I do, however, remember the fabulous cocktail I enjoyed before and during dinner; the caipirinha - the national cocktail of Brazil. I had never heard of it before, but the waiter recommended it. I'm so glad he did.  It was delicious. So delicious that I ordered three?

When I returned to NYC in September of 2010 for another business trip, I went back to Brazil Brazil (this time alone) for a fantastic meal and to enjoy another one of their fantastic caipirinhas.  My return trip did not disappoint.

Since that first trip to Brazil Brazil over ten years ago, I've just been in love with the caipirinha. 

At a company holiday party a few years back, I experienced my first cucumber caipirinha.  O M G!  This drink was so good. Its made in the same method as a traditional caipirinhas, only with a muddeling of hothouse cucumber.  So refreshing.

Key Limes
The caipirinha is made from a fermented sugarcane rum called Cachaça. Cachaça is typically made in Brazil and can easily be found at larger chain liquor stores in the US.  

Cachaça tastes much different than rum. It has a more pure sugar cane like taste which I do not associate at all with silver rum. Cachaça is delicious neat, straight up or on the rocks.

How to make a Caipirinha:

1-2 key limes*, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon simple syrup**
2 fl ounces cachaça  

*Key limes are the small limes typically sold in a mesh bag at your local Mexican grocer or at some other well stocked stores like Berkeley Bowl.

**Simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar heated in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Chill in the fridge and use to sweeten coffee, tea, fruit drtinks and other cocktails just to name a few.
  •  Put the key lime wedges in a vintage Old Fashioned glass and muddle to release the juices. Yes, you'll need a muddler for this. Don't use the back of a wooden spoon.  Go out and buy a proper muddler.  You'll use it FAR more than you think.  
  • Fill the glass with crushed ice (if you have it) or ice cubes
  • Add cachaça and stir to combine

Muddled Key Limes

This drink is delicious on a warm sunny afternoon, a cold winter night or any time and temperature in between. I always remember NYC and Brazil Brazil whenever I enjoy this beverage.

The caipirinha, it's the perfect drink to have before, with or after dinner.

Cheers,  Brad

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