Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Margaritinha? Caipirita?? What IS This Drink to Be Called?

Flavors of Brazil might just have invented a new cocktail. Hard to say if we have or if we've only reinvented the wheel, but we think not, based on some simple searches of the Internet. So we're boldly going to claim the invention, just as the first Portuguese explorers claimed Brazil for the king of Portugal without bothering to check with the people who already lived there.

The whole creation process began with a simple economic problem for cocktail aficionados here in Brazil - tequila is VERY expensive. Up until fairly recently, tequila was a relatively low-cost spirit worldwide, but that's no longer the case. The cost of a bottle of tequila now ranks up there with the premium vodkas and single malt scotches. To make matters worse, there is a very high import duty on imported spirits in Brazil, all of which means that a buying a bottle of tequila in Brazil is a significant investment. A simple bottle of unaged José Cuervo costs almost USD $45.00.

What's not expensive in Brazil is cachaça. A decent bottle, not a great one but a decent one, can be purchased for about one-tenth of the price of that bottle of José Cuervo that sits near it on the shelf. So when a friend of ours was complaining about what it was going to cost him to make margaritas at the bar he's opening shortly, we began to wonder what a margarita made with cachaça would taste like. After all, the taste of the two spirits isn't all that different - they're both clear spirits, neither is sweet, and they share a roughness and a hint of smoke. If a margarita could successfully be duplicated, or at least approximated, with cachaça, it could be sold at a relatively decent price at our friend's bar.

There was only one way to find out - make one and see. So we bought a bottle of curaçau, the Brazilian name for triple sec, and a few limes. The cachaça and salt were already on the shelves at home. Using the classic recipe we made a margarita that only differed from the original in the substitution of liquors. Our guinea pigs, a group of friends who'd come over to try out this new drink, were all unanimous in their evaluation of the result - it was uma delícia!. We agreed, and were surprised how much it tasted like a normal margarita. There was very little to distinguish the difference between cachaça and tequila.

Our friend has decided to add the new cocktail to his drinks menu at the new bar. Only one problem remains to be resolved - how should be it baptized? A name that gives some clue as to what it contains is probably best, and so we thought that a name that blended margarita and caipirinha was the way to go. Mixing the two names results in either margaritinha or caipirita. We prefer caipirita - it's less unwieldy - but it appears that someone, somewhere has used that name to describe a caipirinha made with tequila. Our drink is just the opposite, though, and there's nothing legally preventing our friend from using the name caipirita.

What do you think? We're asking readers of this blog to leave a comment if they have a preference between these two names, or if they think there's another name that's better than either one. Thanks in advance for your suggestions and comments.


  1. I like margaritinha because you were trying to remake a margarita, not a caipirinha.

  2. Dear James, this recipe(or idea) already exist.
    I gave it a try with a good aged cachaça and it was very good, better than a margarita.

    There goes the recipe:

    Adapted from a recipe by gaz regan, Ardent Spirits, New York.
    45 ml (1.5 oz) Pitú cachaça
    45 ml (1.5 oz) Cointreau
    15 ml (.5 oz) fresh lime juice
    Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.