The usual suspects of beer and wine are always welcome at a gathering, but with pitchers of chilled drinks that you have made in advance, there can be more fun for you—no need to tend bar—and more fun for your guests, who can help themselves whenever they want.
Here we whip up a pitcher of the Caipirinha (kuy-per-REEN-yah), Brazil’s national drink, which is made with cachaça (kah-SHAH-sah), an unrefined sugar cane distillate that tastes like a cross between tequila and rum, with a slightly smoky character. Customarily, Caipirinhas are started by muddling lime wedges and sugar together. For this pitcher-drink version by Sharon Tyler Herbst, which appeared in Drinks magazine, we’re simply squeezing the limes and replacing the sugar with homemade brown sugar syrup, which adds a tropical cane syrup flavor. You can substitute vodka for the cachaça to make Caipiroskas, or substitute rum to make Caipirissimas. Cheers!
Makes 10 4-ounce servings
10 medium to large limes, washed and quartered
2 1/2 cups cachaça
1 cup brown sugar syrup (see below)
Squeeze the juice from the lime quarters into a pitcher that holds at least 50 ounces; drop the squeezed fruit into the pitcher. (Don’t knock yourself out to extract all of the lime juice—a brief squeeze will do.) Add cachaça, brown sugar syrup, and about 1 cup water; stir briskly. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Fill 12-ounce double old-fashioned glasses almost full with crushed ice. Add 3 to 4 of the squeezed lime quarters to each glass; top with drink mixture.
To make brown sugar syrup:
Bring 3/4 cup of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add 1 packed cup of dark brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature before using.