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Caiparinhas - are they better in Brazil?

Are the caiparinhas better in Brazil? Why or why not? Is the sugar different or something else?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Taste the same in Brasil and Colombia. My Brasilian friends and colleagues in Brasil use a light brown sugar that all countries down here use.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      I always remember the Caipirinhas I drank there as having been made with white sugar. The main difference I noticed, in both the mixed drinks and those frothy blended juices that are all over the place there, is that they used a much finer grained sugar than we get here in Canada.

      1. re: Jacquilynne

        Sounds like superfine sugar, a staple item behind a decently stocked bar. If all you can find is regular granulated sugar, you can make superfine sugar by whirling a cup of sugar in a blender on high speed for about a minute. I've seen superfine sugar down here in the States make its appearance on shelves as Baker's Sugar.

    2. I think the type of cachaca used plays a big part. Playboy ranked the 20 best cachacas in 2007, a summary of which can be found below in portuguese.


      The best caipirinhas that I have had were made with Vale Verde, which was deemed the best by Playboy. I have never seen that brand in the US.

      1 Reply
      1. Caipirinhas. Well, in Brazil you will find a huge variety of cachacas, in the US you will find only the few that are exported. Also, in Brazil you will find caipirinhas made with different fruits (not only lime): caju (the fruit that cashew nuts come from), passion fruit, different kinds of orange, etc. I don't taste any difference in the sugar here in the US or in Brazil but the fruits are much better there.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Toot

          Agree with Toot. There are a variety of cacahacs to use, the numerous caipirinas and batidas with superior fruit make a difference.

          I would also add that the bartenders in Brasil have much more regard for cachaca, experience making many cocktails with cachaca, and a knowledge of which cachacas lend themselves to a caipirinha with passionfruit, starfruit, guava, etc.

          They are better in Brasil, not to mention the context of watching the sun go down in Rio, Bahia, or Floripa.

          1. re: Toot

            Those aren't caipirinhas made with different fruits, but are called Batidas.

            1. re: JMF

              You are talking about blender drinks generally made with fruit pulp and sometimes sweetened condensed milk. What Toot and streetgourmela are talking about are muddled drinks with fresh fruit served on the rocks usually done in higher end restaurants and I would say more common in Sao Paulo in my experience.

          2. How often in Manhattan are you served a lime that was picked fresh that day? Or do you have access to multiple pot-still distilled cachacas? Both of these are possible in the "interior" of Brasil and in some big cities. That said, most bars in Brazil use fairly inferior cachacas and many people there actually prefer vodka... but generally the fruit is fresher and better.

            As far as the sugar, imported "acucar cristal" can be bought in Brazilian markets in the states, although its a bit harder to find right now. Its got larger grains (sort of like a sanding sugar) and is less refined (purified, then left to cristalize) and will make a difference with muddling, although in Brazil refined sugar is certainly used most. You can try key limes from Mexico, which are close to the limao galego which I mostly use in Brazil (in general Brazilian lines are a bit more acidic and less sweet). And particularly in Newark there should be some decent options for smaller brands of imported cachaca from Minas Gerais, although most of it will still be industrial cachaca some of its fairly drinkable. Of the larger brands distributed around here, I might go with Velho Barreiro, although overall I prefer a good "branquinha." Most of all don't make it too complicated, between luxury liquor brands and fancy techniques American bars sometimes overcomplicate a simple thing, but in Brazil its generally simple in its many incarnations. Fresh fruit, sweet, strong.

            2 Replies
            1. re: itaunas

              Probably more information than any wants to know, but I got a little sugar education from my husband this morning..

              "This is not really a sugar necessarily from Brazil……..it looks like it is one of the many different sugars made anywhere around the world….they are not particular to Brazil….I would have to see it to know what it is."

              He said he thinks this might be what is called "plantation sugar", which is not refined (i.e., put through the refining process), but is raw sugar itself that has carbon dioxide added to it, that creates a chemical reaction that takes away some of the color. Normally 100 – 400 or so ICUMSA. You can tell which process is used by the color. Used mostly in poorer countries – don’t need a refinery. With time and heat starts adding color then. Plantation white, b/c not refined sugar, has a lot residue of molasses. Brazil produces a lot of this – Guatemala, El Salvador – only have had refined sugar for the last 25 years or so, even though it was sold as refined sugar.

              Here's a photo I found on google:


              1. re: MMRuth

                Oops - this was meant to refer to "acucar cristal".

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Yes, very interesting. I'm asking my husband more about the "acucar cristal", and also find it interesting that brown sugar is sometimes used.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  In the beginning of this thread I'd thought that well, I never saw them use a brown(ish) sugar. But then realized that the drinks were usually brought to our table so I didn't actually see them being made so it could easily have been something different. We were in Rio 3-1/2 months so had plenty of opportunities to savor the local drink. I *still* think watching the surf crash on to Copacabana adds to the tastiness of the drink :)

              2. We recently returned from a couple of weeks in Brasil, the North East. We have been to Brasil a few times before. We have never had a caiparinha elsewhere that matches those we've had in Brasil. The range of fruit they use, the different cachasas (we have had one or two that was filled with rocket fuel, and tasted that way), but by and large the drinks were outstanding. We brought back with us a bottle of cachaca from an artisanal manufacturer yet, I don't know where to begin to try and recreate them. I have seen a few made, up close, but I need some great limes first, and a good mottler, or similar.

                31 Replies
                1. re: comiendosiempre

                  I'm a purist. A caiparinha has lime, no oher fruit. That's all I've ever had in Brazil. BTW, muddlers are pretty easy to find. I got a second one at Crate and Barrel.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Caiparinhas made with other fruit are fairly recent and more likely to be found where tourists go. My friends make them in Brasil. I make them here. We use the same limes, the same kind of light brown sugar, and Ypoica.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      There's also one they make with vodka (caiparvodka or some such) but I prefer my vodka without any produce :)

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Caiparoshka, or something like that, is what I recall them being called.

                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                            Thanks. For the life of me, I couldn't remembere that. I can see it in my mind's eye scrawled on the chalkboard but....

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          The Ypioca Prata in the basket bottle is what I use now. I started with the basic Ypioca (the rest of the name escapes me) in the regular bottle, but the Ypioca Prata tastes better to me.

                              1. re: Cinnamon

                                Hey Cinnamon.If you bought it here in the states, the one with the woven basket is Ypioca ouro, although it comes in prata this way in Brasil.The regular bottle available here in the states is Ypioca Crystal.

                                If we're talking about the same bottle, I agree the basket woven bottle of ouro is superior to the crystal for caipirinhas.Have you tried Velho Barreiro?I can do Ypioca, 51, or Velho Barreiro.They taste like my favorite corner botecos at 3AM, or the balada at 5AM.

                                1. re: streetgourmetla

                                  Mine says Prata (aka, silver) on it and it doesn't look gold.

                                  I very vaguely recall when I first went to pick some up at the store I go to in L.A. they may have had two basket-types, the other being the Ouro (gold) (in addition to the Crystal which is what I had before moving on to the basketed bottle). This comes from a place that has five or six brands of cachaca and a whole aisle of tequilas, maybe they've got some import deal. Whatever this is, I like it quite a lot. Never tried the Velho... will look for it.

                                  1. re: Cinnamon

                                    The best selection I've seen is at the Beverage Warehouse in Mar Vista. I just haven't come across the prata.I don't care for the crystal either.

                                    I just picked up Weber Haus a BW and a bottle of Germana, both excellent for sippin'. They have Velho Barreiro there too. Glad to know you're a fellow cachaceiro.

                                    1. re: streetgourmetla

                                      That's the one - off McConnell. Great selection of things. If one were to primarily use them for caipirinhas, what other cachacas they carry would you recommend trying next? (I was happy enough with the prata to pick up two bottles this time, and lately the vodka and rum has been sitting there lonely and unused in our cabinet.)

                                      1. re: Cinnamon

                                        Check out the Velho Barreiro for sure, my favorite in caipirinhas. I like the Germana straight, but at only $25 it would make a nice caipirinha with more emphasis on cachaca than lime and sugar. Better, have the Germana in an ice-chilled cognac snifter.Put some ice and water in the glass, swish it around and then dump and pour in the Germana.

                                        Armazen, which I don't know, GRM,and Weber Haus are better staright and too pricy for caipirinhas.

                                        Have you used 51? Pirapora is another one they carry, but I don't know that one either. Just steer clear of the multi-distilled "Grey Goose" like US market products.You know which ones I'm talking about.

                                        1. re: streetgourmetla

                                          Haven't used 51. Will try your recommendations!

                                          1. re: Cinnamon

                                            You do realize that it's the bottom of the bottom? Doesn't mean I haven't had caipanrinhas made with it but still....

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Which one? (And no 4am wakeup calls, please, Veggo!)

                                              All I know is I like the Ypioca Prata. I have a bottle and a backup bottle, and now 10 more limes. So set for a little while!

                                              1. re: Cinnamon

                                                Is there more than one 51? If so, I stand corrected.

                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                51, Ypioca, and Velho Barreiro are all mass industrial produced column stilled cachacas.If you order a caipirinha in Brasil, you will get one of these three 99% of the time. The bottom is much lower, like Pitu, and many more that are even cheaper than these.

                                                They're all great well cachacas for caipirinhas, and are on the same playing field.If you can handle Ypioca you can use 51, or Velho Barreiro.

                                                1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                  Thanks... it's the Velho Barreiro and Germano that I meant about trying. The 51 mention was just saying no, I hadn't tried that one.

                                                  This would be for caipirinhas. (The Ypioca Crystal was a tad rough but the Ypioca Prata is beautiful in those, to my taste.)

                                                  1. re: Cinnamon

                                                    51 is fine in a caipirinha.There are many other inexpensive brands that are superior for caipirinhas, but they aren't available here in the US.WHen I'm in the many botecos in Brazil I order a caipirinha and 51 is used quite often, and I've enjoyed everyone, I also use it at home.

                                                    I don't do Pitu, though.

                                                    1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                      I drink 51 straight in my hotel room in Brasil before going to sleep. Its OK.

                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        Oh, Sam, you're a better man than I am (but then we already knew that, didn't we?). I'd never drink 51 straight. I always add sugar to the caiparinhas that we get in bars in Rio. I'm a wimp.

                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                          Awesome.I've bought shots of 51 from street carts in Praca da Republica in Sao Paulo.It's a beautiful thing.

                                                          1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                            Shots from a street cart? That seems so odd now, like people smoking in bars or drinking wherever in Mexico. An aside: One of my favorite things about my favorite movie theater in all of Mexico (OK, the only one I've been to there) is that it has a mixed drinks bar as part of the in-theater concession. So you get your libation, and then when you go into watch the movie, it's either in English or has English subtitles, and you're in a full-out reclining cushy leatherette lounge chair (not the wimpy pass-offs like in the U.S.).

                                                            El Hombre De Arena Tres!

                                                            1. re: Cinnamon

                                                              I can't stand all of our prohibitions and restrictive codes.

                                                              Here's one for you, Cinnamon, one of my favorite bars in Sao Paulo!.

                                                                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                                    Nice. Especially on a hot day.

                                                                    Disclaimer: *(Everything in moderation, no driving, etc.)

                                2. re: c oliver

                                  There's nothing like a caipirinha de maracujá, or passion fruit caipirinha, made with fresh fruit (not frozen puree).

                              2. When the dude with the little barrel slung over his shoulder is strolling the sands of Ipanema and Copacabana peddling caiparinhas so you don't have miss a moment of the ladies' volleyball game, you do it.
                                Stateside, I can't find drinkable chacaca so I make do with caiparoshkas.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Veggo

                                  I'm thinking we may have to do some cachaca testing at our apartment in Copacabana! A mini-chowdown? BYOL (limes) And Sam's friends can bring the sugar. Sim?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          NEver mind. Sim - patico. Moving all day. Brain is unusually slow.

                                  1. Well, we can debate cachacas and fruit all day long, but, for me, I can tell you that, though I feel I can make a really good one at home, caipirinhas are a hell of a lot more FUN to drink in Brazil!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ed1066

                                      Yeah, exactly. Must plan research trip, lol.

                                    2. Having just returned from Brasil, I answer with an emphatic "yes"!

                                      I think one poster mentioned the fruit quality, and I think that is the main factor. The limes in Brasil are sweeter and fresher than those that are available in the US (or at least where I live). The bitter skin is often the achilles heel with making the cocktail at home. In Brasil they also have different varieties that are sometimes used, such as one type with green skin and orange flesh, or the one they call the "persian lime" which looks like a lemon and has a beguiling floral scent.

                                      The sugar may be a factor too; I noticed that the caipirinhas I got down there often had larger sugar crystals that sometimes did not fully dissolve, giving an interesting texture and concentrated sweetness.

                                      Once I came back, I tried making a drink with 51 cachaca and larger grain raw sugar. It was so dissapointing. With all the other interesting cocktails that can be made, I don't think I'd have another caipirinha in the US.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: equinoise

                                        We're heading back to Rio in a few weeks and will certainly be drinking plenty of caiparinhas. Someone told us that cutting the ends off the limes makes them less bitter. Also, even though we're cheap, 51 is just not okay. IMO, of course.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I do the end-cutting bit; it helps but doesn't overcome the relative bitterness of US limes.

                                          Personally, I don't think the cachaca quality matters much for purposes of this drink. Cachaca has no herbal or spice tones, it's pretty simple, like vodka. High/end premium cachaca is a new thing, and when I visited Brasil in May of this year it still wasn't generally available or offered for mixed drinks, but mostly sold by the bottle in tourist shops in the Northeast. Cachaca's origins are just a few steps away from fuel, a by-product of a massive sugar industry. Plus, when you adding that much sugar and lime, it's difficult to detect any difference.

                                          1. re: equinoise

                                            The cachaca matters, as it does in all spirits. Cachaca has a wide variety of flavors, and I can evene tell the difference in flavor among the well cahcacas. Artisanal cachacas have been around for a long time.There are as many brands of cachaca in Brazil as there are tequilas in Mexico, maybe over 1200+ brands.

                                            There's nothing simple about the flavors of Vale Verde, Germana, Seleta, Boazinha, Havana, Maria da Cruz, etc.

                                            The high end you're talking about I believe are the US entrepreneured products like Cabana, Leblon, and Sagatiba. They are multi-distilled and more vodka like.

                                            Cutting the ends is how I've seen most bartenders doing it in Brazil, and try making your caipirinha with Germana, available in the states and not much more expensive than 51. I really like Velho Barreiro myself, but 51 is always beleza!

                                            1. re: streetgourmetla

                                              Any LA area suggestions on where to purchase some of these brands?

                                              1. re: joshekg

                                                The best selection I've seen is at the Beverage Warehouse in Mar Vista. They have Germana, GRM, and Weber Haus premium cachacas. The Germana is the best value, but damn that Weber Haus is nice.

                                                They also carry 51, Velho Barreiro, and Ypioca for well cachacas for caipirinhas. The only brand they have unknown to me is Pirapora, but I can't find anything on any Brazilian websites about this brand, so, who knows. I'll grab a bottle sometime and give it a go.

                                                Hi Times has these plus Armazem, including their 16yr aged cachaca. Never tried this one either.

                                                Avoid the multi distilled cachacas that look like their bottle concept is a rip off of Grey Goose or Belvedere Vodkas. Pitu is awful. Mae de Ouro is OK, but I'd rather have 51 for a caipirinha. Rio Joe's is the cheapest, an American investor making an affordable cachaca that is not worth the $8-$10 bucks you save.

                                                Bevmo and the like will have the Ypioca, and 51. Then they have lame well cachacas and the media hyped non-cachaca cachacas.

                                                Beverage Warehouse is the place to go, and they even have the respect to have a separate category for cachacas on their website. That says alot.

                                                1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                  Thanks, I'll make sure to pick up a few bottles on my next trip to bevho (beverage warehouse).

                                      2. We were in Rio about a month ago. One day we went to a rather high end place in Leblon (still need to post about that) and Bob had a caipirinha. I had a taste and thought it was the best one I'd ever had. Found out instead of sugar they use simple syrup. So it was a much milder drink.

                                        1. Of course they taste better, you're on the beach, in Rio, surrounded by beautiful women in itsy bitsy bathing suits. I'd drink kerosene under those conditions and love every drop.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            The kersosene (and some cachaca for that matter as you can buy 750mL for as little as $2 from certain sources) is to light the churrasqueira or wood fired oven/stove my friend. To quote a random guy at the supermarket "Give me some beef ribs, the fatty kind because the the beer is on ice, the cachaca is on the counter..." and the random guy next to him in line said "and limes right next to it."