Baldilocks and the three Caipirinhas: a 52 Cocktails experiment

IMG_3656Once upon a time there was a man with no hair called Baldilocks who was also known as the 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer). One day Baldilocks went out to gather flowers for his mother and came home with a big bunch of mint and some juicy limes. “I suck at picking flowers,” sighed Baldilocks. “And whatever am I going to do with all these limes?”

Just as Balidlocks began juicing limes by smashing them repeatedly into his forehead, 52 Cocktails’ CEO (Cocktail Experimentation Officer) came home. “I don’t know what to do with all this sugar,” she said, unpacking a bag of brown sugar (not the kind favoured by the Rolling Stones), a bag of caster sugar and a bag of organic rapadura sugar. “I met with a publishing company today who said they might be interested in turning 52 Cocktails into a cocktail book. They said they couldn’t pay much but that they’d try to sweeten the deal. I didn’t think they’d mean it literally!”

She turned to look at Baldilocks, who had a rather sour expression. “What’s that look for?” she asked.

“I can’t help it,” Baldilocks said. “All the lime juice keeps getting in my eyes.” He indicated the pile of citrus and mint on the bench, which rather conveniently was sitting next to a bottle of cachaca. This gave the CEO an idea.

“Oh Baldilocks,” the CEO sighed, “why don’t you out for a walk and when you come back I’ll have something smooth and juicy for you to slip into.”

Baldilocks left hastily, and while he was out the CEO prepared herself for a three-way.

A Caipirinha prepared three different ways, that is, in order to discover which one they liked best. What, were you expecting some kind of kinky sex story? This is 52 Cocktails, not 52 Cock Tales!

First she made her standard, tried-and-true Caipirinha, using a recipe she’d adapted from Shaken: 250 very sexy cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004).


CAIPIRINHA (aka 52 Cocktails’ house Caipirinha)

Brazil’s national drink is simultaneously sweet, sour and strong. On a hot day, with a squirt of soda water and some mint added, it’s a refreshing thirst-quencher.

INGREDIENTS

6-8 mint leaves

1 lime, chopped in half, then each half into quarters

3 teaspoons caster sugar

15 ml sugar syrup

ice cubes

60ml cachaca (she used the Sagatiba brand)

30ml soda water

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Muddle the mint, lime, sugar and sugar syrup in an old-fashioned glass. Add several ice cubes and the cachaca and stir until ice-cold. Top with soda water and serve.

NOTES

– The above recipe is for a 52 Cocktails house Caipirinha; true Caipirinhas are not usually made this way. The method given in the book is to muddle the lime, sugar and syrup in a cocktail shaker, add ice and cachaca, shake and strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a sprig of mint. Note that soda is not usually added if you’re using this method, and the mint is not muddled along with the lime. Try making one of each style and see which you prefer – let us know in the comments section below!

– If you are trying the 52 Cocktails house Caipirinha recipe, you can add more or less mint and more or less soda water, to taste. 52 Cocktails would usually add enough soda water to top up the glass.


Next, she made two Caipirinhas based on the recipe in The Craft of the Cocktail by the legendary Dale De Groff (Clarkson Potter, 2002), using brown sugar in one and rapadura (unrefined cane sugar with a caramelly flavour) in the other.


INGREDIENTS

6-8 mint leaves

1/2 lime, quartered

1 teaspoon brown/rapadura sugar

60ml cachaca

30ml soda water

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Muddle the mint, lime and sugar in an old-fashioned glass. Add several ice cubes and the cachaca and stir until ice-cold. Top with soda water and serve.

NOTES

Dale De Groff’s recipe is quite different, but for the sake of the experiment 52 Cocktails had to make each drink using much the same ingredients and method. Dale’s recipe does not include mint or soda, and it uses brown sugar (not rapadura). His method is as follows:

Chill a rocks glass with cracked ice. Muddle the lime and syrup in a mixing glass and add the cachaca. Dump the ice from the rocks glass into the mixing glass and shake well. Pour the entire contents of the mixing glass into the rocks glass and serve.


Because this was turning into a scientific experiment that just happened to look like an excuse to drink three cocktails on a school night, the CEO labelled each drink using a very scientific method, ie by writing what type of sugar was in each drink on a rubber band and placing it around the relevant glass. “Genius!” she exclaimed. OK, OK, she might have had a few too taste tests along the way, but let’s not hold that against her.

When Baldilocks returned he found the three drinks lined up on the bench. First he tried the rapadura Caipirinha.

“Erk,” said Baldilocks eloquently. “Why is this so dry? Where’s the flavour I know and love?”

Next he tried the brown sugar Caipirinha.

“Ooh,” said Baldilocks. “It’s not as sweet as the house style Caipirinhas. But that allows the flavour of the cachaca to come through; that slightly petrol-y, slightly earthy, entirely delicious flavour. I like this one.”

Then he tried the house style Caipirinha.

“Oh!” said Baldilocks in shock. “I thought this would be my favourite, since it’s the one we always drink. But it’s so, SO sweet! It’s like drinking liquid lime icing! It’s delicious, but I can barely taste the cachaca and it makes my teeth hurt.”

He tried them all again before giving his final verdict.

“I like the brown sugar one best, though it could do with some more lime. It tastes like what a local would get in Brazil, whereas the house style one tastes like what the tourists would drink. The rapadura one is too dry and tastes sort of burnt.” He paused, thinking. “A drink that was in between the brown sugar one and the house Caipirinha would be really good,” he hinted subtly.

He tried them all again to be sure, even drinking the one he liked least, and then, not surprisingly, he need a little lie down. So he made his way into the bedroom – and in walked three bears. And not the kind from a fairy tale, either. Boy, was Baldilocks in for a surprise!

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