With the summer Olympics in Rio in full swing, Brazil's national spirit cachaça—along with its best known cocktail, the caipirinha—is having a bit of a moment stateside. And while the centuries-old, sugarcane-based liquor has been proven quite versatile in newfangled creations by NYC bartenders, that traditional caipirinha preparation with muddled lime wedges and sugar in an old-fashioned glass remains one of the most foolproof ways to cool off on a hot summer day. For those looking to experience drinks that channel the spirit of that classic cocktail, here are six takes on the caipirinha to try in NYC bars today.
Watermelon Caipirinha at La Marina
With 75,000 square feet of outdoor, waterfront boozing space, La Marina is the perfect spot to catch some sun and sip on this refreshing watermelon caipirinha. For this recipe, bar captain Christian Mendez mixes Yaguara cachaça with fresh watermelon juice, a splash of lime and sugar.
Copa Ouro at the Polo Bar
At Ralph Lauren's tough-to-get-into American restaurant, the caipirinha made with two types of cachaça—Avuá Prata and Avuá Amburana—along with the usual lime juice and Demerara syrup instead of simple. For a stiffer sip, it's served up without ice.
Olympic Smash at Clover Club
This traditionally-minded rendition by bartender Travis St. Germain blends smooth, amber-hued Yaguara Ouro with one wedge lime and two and a half finger limes, muddled in simple syrup. The mix is shaken, poured into a rocks glass and garnished with a 151-soaked sugar cube set in a lime peel and flamed.
Imperial Caipirinha at RedFarm
In this Eastern-inflected riff by Shawn Chen, ripe-banana–scented Novo Fogo Silver cachaça is layered with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, juicy muddled lychees and a sprig of fresh tarragon. With the lychees adding fruit juice and the liqueur providing sweetness, Chen uses only half of a freshly-cut lime to balance the mix.
Kaffirinha at Sushisamba
Cachaça is infused with kaffir lime leaves for 24 hours to form the base of this fragrant rendition. It's then churned with fresh lime juice and sugar, topped with crushed ice and garnished with sugarcane, lime wedges and a kaffir lime leaf.
Mango-ginger caipirinha at Coppelia
At Julian Medina's round-the-clock Latin-American diner, the usual recipe is tweaked with a mango puree and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, and rimmed with a brown sugar-lime zest mix.