Pittsburgh’s Caipirinha Cocktail Recipe

Pittsburgh’s Caipirinha Cocktail Recipe

Pittsburgh’s Caipirinha Cocktail Recipe

We mentioned yesterday that it took what seems to us a very long time before it occurred to anyone to try to mix multiple liquors together in a single drink. To give due credit to our mixological forefathers, they had much more material to work with doing things the ‘old fashioned’ way than we might expect . To the taste, the light and citrusy caipirinha and the somewhat brooding old fashioned don’t seem to have much to do with one another. But if you look at them closely, you can see that their built on the same skeleton:

  • Basic Skeleton: 2 oz spirit + sugar + flavoring
  • Old Fashioned: 2 oz whiskey + sugar + bitters
  • Caipirinha: 2 oz cachaca + sugar + lime

You can go a long way by trying out different spirits with different herbs, fruits, or bitters as a secondary flavor, and the old fashioned mixologists did.

Cachaca, by the way, is Brazil’s national spirit. It’s a type of rum, with the difference that while most rums are distilled from molasses (boiled sugar cane juice) cachaca is distilled from fresh-pressed sugar cane juice. This gives cachaca a brighter, cleaner flavor than most rums.

Following the example of our bartending forebears, in making caipirinhas for our cocktail clinic, we played with the recipe a little bit, using Wigle’s Landlocked spirit instead of cachaca. One of the things that we love about Wigle is their firm commitment to Pittsburgh; whatever they make comes from products that are grown in nearby Western Pennsylvania. Sugar cane is not. So, in developing their rum alternative, they turned to honey instead. It makes for a similarly sweet spirit, a bit heavier on the palate, with a more vegetal flavor. Not being made from sugar cane, it can’t be called rum, and it shouldn’t be: it’s definitely its own thing. And precisely because of that, it made for a unique spin on the caipirinha, bringing Pittsburgh to the beach.

A caipirinha is perfect with cachaca. The great thing about mixology is you’re not limited to just one perfect.

Pittsburgh’s Caipirinha Cocktail Recipe


  • 2 oz cachaca (we like 51) or Wigle Landlocked, if you are looking to change things up
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 lime wedges


  • Squeeze the juice from the lime wedges into an old fashioned glass, and then drop the wedges themselves in.
  • Add the sugar and mix so that the sugar absorbs the lime juice
  • Add the cachaca or Landlocked. Stir a little, if necessary, to make sure the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add ice.

Roberts & June