Monday, February 11, 2008
Caipirinha (standard recipe)
1.75 oz Cachaca
1/2 Fresh Lime
1 teaspoon superfine cane sugar
Cut ½ lime into thirds and muddle with the sugar in a rocks glass. Fill with ice cubes and add cachaca. Place mixing tin over glass, invert and shake well. Pour contents (do not strain) back into glass, and garnish with lime wheel.
(Like many cocktails, the Caipirinha’s ingredient proportions vary considerably depending on the recipe. It appears that most people adjust the amount of lime, sugar and cachaca to suit their taste. The above recipe is my favorite.)
1 oz. Cachaca (I used Pitu)
1 oz. Sake (I used Momokawa Diamond)
1 tsp. Ground crystallized ginger
1/2 Fresh Lime
Grind the crystallized ginger until it forms a coarse paste. (I used a mortar & pestle, but since the ginger is soft, you should be able to grind it up easily in a bowl with the back of a spoon)
Cut 1/2 lime into thirds and muddle with the ginger in a rocks glass. Fill with ice cubes and add cachaca. Place mixing tin over glass, invert and shake well. Pour contents (do not strain) back into glass, and garnish with lime wheel.
I discovered the Caipirinha about a year ago and I immediately loved it. The simplicity of its recipe appealed to me, and the no-frills sweet/sour/spirit combo is fantastic. Plus, I get to play with my muddler. Any drink that calls for squashing stuff with a hunk of wood is OK in my book.
So when I was considering which classic drink to corrupt with my graceless tinkering, I gravitated toward the Caipirinha. I knew I didn’t want to add anything, which could potentially change the entire character of the drink. I also didn’t want to remove an ingredient and destroy the great three-way balance among the ingredients.
This left me with substitution. But rather than trying out random ingredients in a maelstrom of trial-and-error, I decided to let aroma be my guide. I closed my eyes and took several whiffs of the open cachaca bottle to see if it suggested anything (I’m an unapologetic bottle-sniffer, and can often be found rapturously inhaling the delightful fumes from my bottle of Luxardo maraschino. Don’t judge me.).
It wasn’t long before I had one of those “light-bulb-over-the-head” moments. Ginger seemed like it might be complementary, and since I had the crystallized kind (which contains sugar) handy, that’d take care of the sweetness.
After mashing some up in my trusty mortar & pestle, (getting to use another gadget...bonus!) I tried out the conventional recipe…substituting the ginger for the sugar. Unfortunately, the ginger got lost, overwhelmed by the punchy cachaca.
That’s when I opened the fridge and spotted the unopened bottle of sake.
Some sort of perverse inspiration struck, and I made another quick tweak: I knocked the ¾ oz. off the cachaca and replaced it with an ounce of sake. Yeah, I know I technically violated my earlier rule about not adding anything, but it’s my own rule and I can bend it if I want.
Anyway, I think it works. The cachaca still forms the backbone of the drink, but the sake puts a crisp, dry angle on it. And adding it somehow freed up the ginger, which now comes out as just a little wisp on the finish. Best of all, it still tastes fundamentally like a Caipirinha, which is great because I didn’t want to totally transmogrify the thing into something unrecognizable.
The only problem was I had no idea what to call it. I figured something like “Asian-inspired caipirinha” or “Caipirinha Japanese-style” was perfectly accurate, but lacked zip. I’ll keep working on it. Suggestions, as always, are encouraged.
And don't forget to swing by Jimmy's Cocktail Hour and check out all the other great contributions to this month's Mixology Monday!