Caipirinha is Brazil’s drinkable super model. The country’s national cocktail doesn’t often make drink menus in the United States, but when a well-crafted one does come to town, it’s worth trading in the salt-rimmed, tequila concoctions from our southern neighbors to imbibe in the spirit of South America’s sexiest place. Cachaça is at the heart of this classic. Unlike rum that is distilled from molasses, cachaça is a spirit derived from the distilled juice of unrefined sugarcane. Added sugar and muddled lime complete the tropical concoction.
At Jema in Huntington, beverage director Bernardo Carolo made the caipirinha the restaurant’s signature cocktail as a nod to chef Franco Sampogna’s heritage. “Having the caipirinha on the menu is not only a decision to include a great cocktail, but is a clear way to build a bridge between the cocktail culture in New York and chef Franco Sampogna’s Brazilian roots.”
The cocktail mirrors Sampogna’s culinary philosophy: implementing a simple recipe that allows the focus to be on the quality of the ingredients. “The caipirinha is a beautiful cocktail based on humbleness and simplicity,” Carolo explained. “The name stands for ‘little countryside girl’ in Portuguese.” He takes the sweet and smoky drink to the next level by adding a touch of panela, a raw, unrefined sugarcane juice from Central and South America cooked into a thick, syrup-like consistency and cooled into bricks. “Panela raw sugar gives it a hint of caramel and a dark color that makes this caipirinha reinvigorating yet warm. Our caipirinha is served in a classy Old Fashioned glass to contrast the humble origins of the cocktail…it gives it a face.”
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
2tsp raw panela sugar
2oz Pirassununga 51 Cachaça
Lemon wedge for garish
Cut lime into wedges and muddle with raw panela sugar. Add Pirassununga 51 Cachaça, stir and pour into an Old Fashioned glass. Fill to the top with crushed ice and stir gently. Garnish with a lemon wedge.