caipirinha drew blank stares - and when I explained that the caipirinha was a drink made with crushed whole limes, sugar and cachaça the stares grew even blanker. No one had heard of the cocktail, or even of the sugar-cane liquor that fueled it, except for others who had been to Brazil, and who raved along with me.
Now, of course, the increasing fame of the caipirinha and the world-wide availability of cachaça means that I usually don't have to explain what a caipirinha is. Almost any upmarket bar in North America or Europe will serve you a caipirinha, and cachaça can be found in many liquor stores (although at astronomic prices, by Brazilian standards).
What isn't so well known outside Brazil is that the caipirinha has engendered a whole family of cocktails, all based on the same formula of crushed whole fruit + juice, sugar and distilled liquor. In Brazilian Portuguese, if the fruit used in not the original lime, but the drink still includes cachaça, then it's called a caipifruta. However, when the liquor used changes, so does the name. The two most popular variations on the caipirinha are the caipiroska, which substitutes vodka for the cachaça, and the caipirissima, which employs white rum. If neither the fruit juice nor the liquor is the one used in the caipirinha, then the name changes, as in the recipe below, to something else - caipiroska de tangerina, caipiroska de caju, caipirissima de manga.
This recipe is one that I found on the website Petitchef, a great source of recipes from the blogosphere. As the name caipiroroska de seriguela would indicate, it's made with vodka not cachaça and the fruit used is seriguela. I've not yet tried it, but since it's currently seriguela season here, and my fridge is full of them, I'll have to give it a try. From the photo on the site (above) it looks wonderful.
RECIPE - Seriguela Caipiroska (Caipriroska de Seriguela)
Makes one drink
2 oz. (60 ml) good-quality vodka
1-2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, to taste
4-6 fresh seriguelas
roughly smashed ice cubes
In an old-fashioned glass, put the skin and pulp of 4-6 feshly washed seriguelas, discarding the central seed. Add sugar to taste, then using a mortar or the end of the handle of a wooden spoon, crush the pulp until the juice has released and the sugar has dissolved. Add the vodka, then fill the glass with ice. Stir thoroughly to chill the drink and serve immediately.
(Note, this recipe can easily be turned into a caipirinha de seriguela or a caipirissima de seriguela by substituting cachaça or rum, respectively, for the vodka.)