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May 19, 2009 04:10 AM

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…… 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 :)