This image courtesy of Tim Turner

Visiting Rio de Janeiro and my friend Carlos Alves is always an honor. His family owns and operates Quiosque do Portugues, one of the busiest quiosques (bars) along the iconic beaches of Copacabana, Leblon, and Ipanema. Last visit, as usual sitting and quenching my thirst with a Caipirinha-Brazil’s cachaca-based national drink-I was struck to see most customers ordering Caipiroska, which in essence is the same muddled cocktail, but with vodka in place of cachaca. According to Carlos, vodka is gaining steam as a rival to Brazil’s long-standing national spirit. The Caipiroska follows a simple recipe of fresh lime, sugar, and vodka. Debate exists as to what type of sugar-granulated white or simple syrup. An entirely personal preference to my eye, though from my travels granulated seemed universally used. Regardless, this drink is a fantastic platform for experimentation. Consider the array of alluring seasonal fruit combinations out there. I tend to keep the classic recipe mostly intact by keeping fresh limes in the mix, then add whatever is seasonally fresh and readily available-strawberry, blueberry, clementine, kumquat. Select one or try a combination; it’s tough to go wrong. A great match is a clean, neutral vodka with fruity, floral notes-something made from corn, wheat, or mixed grain, something gentle and that complements the drink’s citrus element.

NotesSimple syrup is one of the essential cocktail staples-the best way to add the pure sweetness of sugar to a drink recipe.

1 cup (480 ml) water

1 cup (480 ml) sugar

Dissolve sugar into boiled water. Allow mixture to cool and store in a clean bottle in your refrigerator for up to a month.


Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Recipe Coursebeverage

Type of Dishalcoholic beverage, beverage, cocktails


  • 2 oz (60 ml) vodka
  • 1 oz (30 ml) simple syrup (see Notes) or 1 heaping tbsp (opprox 4 tsp) granulated white sugar
  • 1 small lime cut in quarters


  1. Fill an Old Fashioned glass with cracked ice. In a mixing glass add simple syrup or granulated sugar and lime quarters. Muddle to extract juice without forcing the rind from the lime. Dump the ice from the glass into the mixing glass, add vodka, and shake. Pour the entire drink into the chilled Old Fashioned glass. Remember, this drink is served with the same ice used during its preparation.


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