The Caipirinha

Ayrton Senna's birthday

Your cocktail calendar entry for: March
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The Drink of the Day on March 25 is the Caipirinha, in celebration of Ayrton Senna’s birthday.

It’s also Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday in 1865.  But fast forwarding a few years, to 1960, the legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna joined this world.  While you would expect anyone born in 1685 to have passed along it also turns out Senna has.

Our Editorial Board thought about Bach, but our trying to explain anything about his music would be about as useful as dancing to explain architecture.  Nonetheless, historians do leave us with one important data point:  Bach was a beer drinker.  And a lot of it.  We know of an all-expenses paid trip he took in 1713 to Halle to consult on construction of an organ at Our Lady’s Church which included 18 groschen for beer.  That’s 32 quarts worth of beer at the time.  This suggests that old J.S. tossed down about 4 ½ pints, or a six pack in US measure, each day.  But that’s beer and not how we roll here.  Instead, we’ll have Brazil’s national drink, the Caipirinha.

Senna and Caipirinhas

We’re ignoring Bach today so let’s turn to Ayrton Senna. He was a Brazilian racing driver who won the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship in 1988, 1990 and 1991.  He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time.  Senna was a prodigy of sorts, decimating the older competition in carting contests in his native Brazil and then doing the same in the major league of Formula One.  Sadly, however, this all came to an end in 1994.  While leading the San Marino Grand Prix, his car exited the Imola circuit at around 190 mph and had a direct altercation with a concrete retaining wall at about 145 mph.  The reasons for this crash have been heavily analyzed and are largely attributed to failure of a modified steering column, but it hardly matters.  Crashing at 145 mph is enough to put a crimp in anyone’s day.

So where does this leave us as far as an appropriate Drink of the Day?  Simple.  We turn to Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha.  So let’s dust off that bottle of Cachaca you have been ignoring for a while and get to work.

You can’t get much simpler than this one.  It’s nothing but half a lime, a bit of sugar and Cachaca.  Cachaca, if you’re not familiar with it, is a sugar-cane-based spirit made in Brazil.  Since 2001 the specification has been that it’s made using sugar can juice, like Rhum Agricole from Martinique, but molasses was sometimes employed earlier.  It’s basically a white rum, and Brazil has posited that it may have been the first sugar-cane-based spirit to emerge from the New World.  The jury is out on that, but the drink is enjoyed worldwide.  Also to note, if you would like something with more fruits involved try a Caipifruta.  Basically the same thing, but not limited to limes.



March 21 was Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday but also the birthday of the late Ayrton Senna, one of the great Formula One drivers of all time. He was Brazilian, so today we turn to the most Brazilian of all cocktails for Drink of the Day.
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  • 1 Lime
  • 1 tsp sugar or simple syrup
  • 2 oz Cachaca


  • First, take a lime and cut through its equator into halves. Next cut each half into four equal pieces. Your correspondent has been advised by native Brazilians that this is the only proper way to do it. Eschew the long crescents you see elsewhere associated with cocktails.
  • Next, toss the four lime pieces into an Old Fashioned glass, and follow with about a teaspoon of sugar. Muddle well, making a point to extract those tasty oils from the lime zest.
  • Toss in cracked ice, add Cachaca, stir a bit.
  • Drink.
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