So I thought that I would wait a bit to address the issue of CAIPIRINHAS, but I just couldnt control myself. I mean what if one of you just happened to be leaving on your Rio trip and hadnt read these words of wisdom?
FIRST: I apologize for the half full caipirinha above, but I rarely have my camera with me when out having a caipirinha, So this is a rare pic. But you also must note that this is the famous Azeda Beach caipirinha, which is the most beautiful one I have come across throughout my years of study, complete with a pineapple leaf, a purple grape and a fuschia flower. Only a woman with great taste could have made this!
SECOND: Caipirinhas are made with cachaca and lime and sugar, that´s all. Since limes really dont change much in flavor, much less sugar, you MUST invest in the cachaca (sugar cane alcohol). Cachaca is not rum, not even close to it. It is much more flavorful and doesnt have that strong (rubbing alcohol) smell that some people seem to love....
(this is the bottle you are on the lookout for guys!)
THIRD: What does this all mean? When you go to a restaurant and like a pro you ask for your caipirinha (CAI-PER-EEN-YA), please make certain to ask if they have a special cachaca (KA-SHA-SA). It will cost more but it is worth it. Whatever you do do not, I repeat do NOT have a caipirinha made with 51, pitu or velho barreiro (velyo bahayro). Besides getting a bad tasting caipirinha you will get a serious hangover. If you are lucky enough to be going to a respectable restaurant with a choice of cachaca, then go for NEGA FULO (nega fuLO). If they only have those terrible three mentioned above then have a caipiroska which is exactly the same thing but made with vodka.
FOURTH: Unfortunately all great trips come to an end. When you go home I bet you will be craving a caipirinha. Lucky you, I am going to share the secrets to an excellent caipirinha. Look for some Leblon cachaca which many stores now carry in the States. Buy your juicy limes and I assume you have some sugar at home. Cut the limes lengthwise down the middle and remove the pith with the knife. This is terribly important because the pith is pure bitterness - arg dont want that! Now you should have two pithless halves of a lime. Flip the piece over so it looks like a turtle and make thin slices, but not all the way down to the bottom. Now take the pieces and crush them with a mortar and pestle. Put the smashed limes, one and a half shots of cachaca, two big spoons of sugar and lots of ice into a cocktail shaker, shake like mad and put the whole mess into a beautiful crystal glass, and if you have a flower to decorate with, then all the better!
FIFTH: If you are in Rio then go to the Academia da Cachaca (Cachaca College!) bar/restauarant. It is located in a fun part of Leblon and you can sit on the sidewalk and people watch while you try one of their 50 brands of cachaca, or one of their 20 types of caipirinha! Rua Conde Bernadotte, 26. Tel.(21) 2529-