Put a popsicle in it. That seems to be the way to really cool down a caipirinha during the heat of the Brazilian summer – at least according to the very hip São Paulo bar Boteco São Bento, it is. The bar has taken to making the fruit- and liquor-based cocktail in large glasses, with fresh fruit crushed in the drink as is customary, and then plopping a popsicle of the same fruit flavor into the glass. The popsicle cools down the drink as it melts and instead of diluting it, as melting ice cubes do, the frozen treat keeps the fruit component of the drink strong and flavorful.
At the two branches of Boteco São Bento the popsicle caipirinha is made not with cachaça but instead with sake. Just like the original dry martini recipe from the early years of the 20th century eventually evolving into a multitude of drinks – all called martini because they were served in a classic martini glass – the recent trend in Brazil is to call any mixture of liquor and crushed fresh fruit in a glass a caipirinha (or some variation on that name). Personally, I think there’s only one way to make a true martini or a true caipirinha – everything else that riffs on the theme should be called something else. So I have no problem with a vodka-based caipiroska or a caipirissima made with rum because the name is different. But if you want to make a caipirinha, with our without a popsicle in it, it has to have cachaça.
That linguistic rant out of the way, the idea of adding a popsicle to a fruit-based cocktail of any sort is a grand idea, and Flavors of Brazil applauds whoever at Boteco São Bento who came up with the idea. As their popsicles are anything but traditional with the use of sake, Boteco São Bento also alters the fresh fruit component of the drink when making popsicle caipirinhas. Two favorite versions at the bar are the Manga Quente (Hot Mango) which combines crushed fresh mangoes and key limes with a mango popsicle, and the Uva Itália (Italian Grape) combining fresh red grapes and lychees with a grape popsicle. Pictured to the right is their Manjericaba, made with jabuticaba and basil (manjericão) topped with a jabuticaba popsicle.
Brazilian artisanally-made popsicles are generally of high quality and great flavor and I look forward to doing some experimenting of my own with the formula. I’m already thinking that you could do a great take-off on the classic piña colada by making a cocktail of rum and fresh pineapple juice and then adding a coconut popsicle. Plus, I do intend to make a true popsicle caipirinha one of these days – with nothing but cachaça, fresh limes and a nice tart lime popsicle. I promise to report back on the results.