By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated August 10, 2016
Avua Cachaca, Carey Jones, cocktails
Credit: © Carey Jones

If you haven’t been downing caipirinhas while watching all the gymnastics, swimming and trap shooting you can handle during the Rio Olympics, it’s time to start. There’s no better drink for your evening viewing (or, let’s be real, daytime viewing) but it's important to note: making a great caipirinha is all about technique. And good ingredients.

Fresh lime juice is paramount; great cachaça is, too. In Brazil, you can buy bottles for a dollar, but generally, if a bottle of booze costs a dollar, you don’t really want to be drinking it. But several great cachaça brands have hit the American market recently. Avuá is our favorite of the lot. Pick up a bottle of their Prata cachaça and give these three caipirinha variations a try.

Bronze: Classic Caipirinha

It’s all about the fundamentals: the right balance of booze, citrus, and sugar; muddling the lime so that you get the citrus oils as well as the juice. Fully loaded and dangerously drinkable.

Instructions: Quarter a lime, and place in a rocks glass and muddle the lime. Add 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar and muddle more. Add 2 ounces of cachaça and ice. Pour into a shaker and back into the glass several times. No garnish necessary.

Silver: Sparkling Caipirinha

Make no mistake about it, the caipirinha is a boozy drink. And what’s our favorite way to make a boozy drink a little lighter? Bubbles. The classic lime-cachaça-sugar trio takes well to a big float of sparkling wine. And these are easy to make in batches, too.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of cachaça, 1 ounce of fresh lime juice, and 3/4 ounce of simple syrup. Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with 2 ounces of sparkling wine, and garnish with a straw and lime wheels.

Gold: Frozen Maracujá Caipirinha

Like daiquiris or margaritas, caipirinhas are often loaded up with fruit. Also like daiquiris or margaritas, fruity caipirinhas are often way too sweet. But here, we’re using just a bit of passionfruit juice, balanced with plenty of lime, for a cocktail that keeps a great caipirinha’s sweet-tart balance. Oh, and making it slushy, because why not?

Instructions (makes four drinks): In a blender, combine 6 ounces of cachaça, 3 ounces of fresh lime juice, 1 1/2 ounces of passionfruit nectar (Goya is inexpensive and widely available), and 1 1/2 ounces of simple syrup. Add 4 cups of ice and blend until slushy. Garnish with lime wheels, umbrellas, or whatever strikes your fancy. Dash Angostura bitters on top of each drink.