By Kim Choe
“When I’m abroad, if I can make caipirinha for friends it’s something which makes me feel more connected to people.”
According to Leandro Beguoci, there are three things everybody knows about his country, Brazil: its love of soccer, samba and caipirinhas.
All three speak to a fondness for socialising and celebrating, but it is the caipirinha cocktail that the New York-based journalist most frequently calls upon when he wants to capture the true spirit of his home for his friends.
“When I’m abroad, if I can make caipirinha for friends it’s something which makes me feel more connected to people,” he says.
The very essence of the cocktail couldn’t be more Brazilian. Cachaça, the base spirit, is distilled from sugarcane juice, of which Brazil is the world’s largest producer. Sugar itself also plays a key role in the refreshing drink, with limes and ice rounding out the simple recipe.
The drink is thought to have originated sometime in the early 20th century. Its name comes from the Portuguese caipira, which describes a person from the countryside (similar to a “country bumpkin” or “hillbilly”). Thus, says Leandro, it is a drink that can be enjoyed by all.
“When you make caipirinha in Brazil it’s to socialise with friends. For example if we go to a friend’s house during the summer it’s very, very hot. Preparing the caipirinha is very refreshing.”
The beauty of such a simple recipe is that it doesn’t have to be prepared in the kitchen. Leandro’s fondest caipirinha-drinking memories are of his college years, when he and his friends would make their cocktails on the beach (Brazil does not restrict consumption of alcohol on beaches), and drink them looking out to sea.