Measure & Stir

A Craft Cocktail Blog for the Home Bartender that Focuses on Original Creations Drawn from Culinary Inspiration.


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Pining for a Caipirinha

I missed Mixology Monday this month, but last night I was getting into the Zirbenz and I suddenly realized I had a great application for it. So, I say in the video that this is for MxMo, but the fact is that I didn’t make it in time. Well, you can’t have everything.

Pining for a Caipirinha
1.5 oz Aged Cachaça (Novo Fogo)
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
.5 oz Lime Oleo Saccharum
Shake and double-strain over cracked ice. Garnish with lime quarters.

I love Caipirinhas, but I think that as a built drink, it suffers from a flat texture. When there is fresh citrus in my drink, I want the aeration that comes from shaking. When you make a classic caipirinha, you muddle limes with granulated sugar in the glass, and the sugar helps to macerate the peels, releasing oils and juice. Freshly expressed lime oil is a big part of the Caipirinha experience, but I don’t like the fact that the ratios are unmeasured, so I took the elements of the Caipirinha and brought them into proper cocktail alignment.

Lime oleo saccharum is a pain to make, because lime peels are smaller and more brittle than lemon, orange, or grapefruit, but by using it in this drink, we are able to dramatically bolster the aromatic components of the lime, and get very close to the true essence of the flavor of Caipirinha.

An ounce of sweet ingredients does feel like a bit much, but you will find that, with the ice and the shaking, the drink comes out very cold, and the added sugar helps to punch through the dulling effect that cold has on the tastebuds. Moreover, Zirbenz is not a very sweet liqueur, so its inclusion is more about flavor than sweetening.

I always notice that lime oil has a lot in common with pine, so I put these two ingredients together to highlight that similarity. Zirbenz is a tough ingredient to use, because although it tastes strong on its own, the pine flavor is not penetrating, and is easily covered up by other botanicals such as those found in gin or vermouth. To be perfectly honest, if pine flavor is your goal, I think you would get farther using  essential oil than you will with this liqueur.

Even so, the Zirbenz has a raisiny quality along with its resiny quality, so it fits nicely between aged Cachaça and lime oil. I’ll try to post more often, I swear.


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Raspberry Caipirinha

Raspberries are in season, just begging us to make use of their sunny, jammy flavors. Moreover, I just purchased a new bottle of Cachaça, because every once in a while I get that Caipirinha itch. Let’s see if we can play matchmaker with those.

Cachaça is mostly produced in Brazil, where 390 million gallons are consumed annually, compared with 4 million gallons outside the country. I don’t know about you, but I am doing my part to beat the Brazilians and put the US on the map for Cachaça consumption. USA! USA! USA! And of course, the Caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil, but to be honest, I find the combo of lime, sugar, and (essentially) very funky rum to be a little one-note and boring, so I like to add in one other fruit, which varies according to my mood.

Unfortunately, such a drink is technically called a Capifruta, but sometimes the technically correct is also the hopelessly ugly, and “Capifruta” sounds really grating to my American ears, whereas Caipirinha does not. Unlike economics or physics, this is an instance where judicious use of language can actually shape reality, so I will refrain from calling this drink by its “correct” name.

I never add more than one fruit besides lime, because we’re making a mixed drink, not a big bowl of mashed up fruit. Sometimes I use kumquats, and then I omit the lime altogether.

Raspberry Caipirinha

2 oz Cachaça (Pitú)
3 – 4 lime wedges (aim for .5 oz of juice)
4 – 5 raspberries
.5 oz simple syrup

Place raspberries and limes in a mixing glass and muddle thoroughly. Shake over ice and then pour the entire contents of the shaker into an old-fashioned glass. The smashed up lime wedges are the garnish.

The process I described here is the traditional way, as far as I know, and it is the one I followed for this photograph, but I did not enjoy the little pieces of ice floating on top of the drink, and I don’t think anyone else would, either, so I suggest finely straining this over fresh cracked ice and then garnishing it with a fresh lime wedge.

It won’t quite have the rustic feeling if you do it that way, but it will produce a more polished drinking experience. Rough up the garnish limes a little if you really need to.

Much like the old fashioned, you could use caster sugar instead of simple syrup, and the granules of sugar would macerate the lime peel a little more effectively than simple muddling, releasing more lime oil. As with the old fashioned, I will mention that the ROI on this procedure is very small, but you can do it if you feel exceptionally fancy. You will really want to use caster sugar, though, so as to avoid undissolved sugar granules in the final drink, which you will agree is much worse than slightly less lime oil.

Cheers.