So far we have learned all about the history of cachaça, then I showed you how to pick the perfect limes for your Caipirinha, and lastly, I shared with you my own personal little strategy for cutting limes for Caipirinha. So what now?
There is still one fundamental ingredient to Caipirinha left to mention, namely the sugar.
The role of sugar in the Caipirinha
If are new to making Caipirinha, then you must have already noticed that your first Caipis sometimes turn out too sour and other times too sweet and ofttimes too strong. This is actually pretty normal since it takes time to get the hang of balancing all 3 ingredients. This still happens to me when I mix a Caipirinha abroad, for example. When I moved to Shanghai a few months ago, I had trouble finding lime in the supermarkets. The solution was to actually have them mailed in from Hainan. The Hainan limes were so damn small and bitter, that it took me a few trial and errors until I got my caipis going again.
That being said, the main role of the sugar is to balance the citric of the lime. As you are muddling, the sugar grains also act as an abrasive on the lime peel, helping extract the essential oils and aromas that are so unique to this cocktail.
Brown vs. white: what is the best sugar for Caipirinha?
Nowadays, with so many weight watchers out there, many bars in Brazil will ask if you want your Caipirinha to be sweetened with regular sugar or diet syrup. Other establishments have replaced white sugar altogether with brown sugar since brown sugar is said to be healthier.
How you sweeten your Caipirinha is your own problem, but keep in mind that the only authentic way is to use white sugar. Everything else is either a trend or a matter of taste. Back when I was living in Germany, it was darn right impossible to get a Caipirinha made with white sugar. When I asked if they could do it, the bartender would look at me almost as if I were committing a sin. Ohh…little do they know…
I very much prefer super fine white sugar over white granulated and brown sugar. The reason why is because, with super fine sugar, I’m able to get that homogeneous mix of sugar and lime juice. After I add the ice and cachaça, everything just mixes much better from top to bottom. With granulated sugar or brown sugar, the grains tend to stick to the bottom of the glass. If you are sipping through a straw, then the Caipi will taste too sweet and you will probably find yourself chewing on a few grains now and then. And if you happen to be drinking directly from the glass, then you don’t taste the sweetness until the very end…
So, to wrap it all up…I personally prefer super fine white sugar. You are more than welcome to try any other alternative and if you’re not too drunk afterward, then please consider leaving a comment with your opinion.