Caipirinhas: A Brazilian Icon

A typical Brazilian caipirinha - the national cocktail of Brazil

The caipirinha is one of Brazil’s most iconic drinks and you are almost certain to come across this beloved national cocktail during your luxury holiday to Brazil. Bespoke Brazil specialist Ellie, shares all there is to know about Brazil’s favourite tipple.

The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail and most common distilled alcoholic beverage. It is loved all over Brazil and recently grown more and more popular around the rest of the world too in recent years. For cocktail lovers, read on for a short history of the drink and a step by step recipe so you can make your own at home whilst planning your luxury holiday to Brazil with us.

A typical Brazilian caipirinha - the national cocktail of Brazil


According to historians, the caipirinha was invented by landowning farmers in the region of Piracicaba, inside the State of São Paulo, during the 19th century, as a local drink for high-class events and parties. Made from cachaça, a clear spirit made from distilled sugarcane, the instant popularity of this beverage reflected the strong sugarcane culture in the region which was home to many plantations of this crop.

The caipirinha is the strongest national cocktail of Brazil and is imbibed in restaurants, bars, and many households throughout the country for almost any occasion! Once almost unknown outside Brazil, the drink has become more popular and more widely available abroad in recent years, in large part due to the rising availability of first-rate brands of cachaça outside Brazil and the explosion of mixology culture in high-class hotels.

A typical Brazilian caipirinha - the national cocktail of Brazil


As with most cocktails around the world, caipirinhas can be altered and adjusted depending on people’s preferences and a wide range of exotic variations exist incorporating a huge number of tropical fruits typical of Brazilian cuisine.

When dining out, we recommend opting for variations using premium cachaça brands, often known as a ‘caipirinha luxo’ (luxury caipirinhas) for a smoother and more refined cocktail. Street vendors along the Rio de Janeiro beach fronts and other similarly touristic areas will often sell variations using more humble mid-range cachaça brands.

Next, you can even switch the type of alcohol you use. The most common replacement for cachaça is vodka. Caipirinhas made with vodka are known around Brazil as caipiroskas, a nickname that mimicks the sounds of the Russian language!

Lastly, you can switch up your cocktail by opting for a variety that includes exotic fruit as a twist on the classic lime flavouring. Although both the Brazilian regulations and the International Bartenders’ Association (IBA) allow the use of the name caipirinha for the version made with lime only, the term is often now used to describe any cachaça-and-fruit-juice drink. The most popular fresh fruits used in caipirinhas are tangerine, kiwi, passion fruit, pineapple, lemon, mango, cajá (Spondias Mombin fruit), and caju (cashew fruit). Regional varieties of caipirinhas (in the Amazon basin, for example) often make use of exotic flavours produced with endemic fruits entirely unique to the forests of the local area.

A typical Brazilian caipirinha - the national cocktail of Brazil. Flavoured with passion fruit.


2 oz. cachaça

½ lime

1 tsp. sugar



Slice the lime in half, then cut that half into quarters. Brazilian recipes typically call for one whole lime, you can adjust the amount to your taste.

Put the lime and sugar into a glass. It is easier to muddle the limes in a robust tumbler/rock glass than it is a tall glass, so that would be our recommendation.

Muddle the sugar and lime. Do this by pressing down and twisting repeatedly with a muddler – a long pestle shaped like a miniature baseball bat (if you do not have a muddler, then you can use the back of a spoon). Crush the limes enough to release their juice, but try not to over-crush them, or the drink will become bitter.

Fill the glass with ice. Crushed ice is best, but ice cubes will work too.

Add the cachaça and stir well so the sugar spreads around the glass. You can add as much or as little cachaça as you like, but this is the recommended amount in Brazil.

Serve with extra lime wedges and enjoy!

A bartender prepares a traditional caipirinha drink

Are you planning a foodie trip to Brazil? Contact us today to speak to a travel specialist and plan your luxury holiday in Brazil. We can include exclusive gastronomical experiences and classes to suit every taste in your bespoke itinerary.