In celebration of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I thought it best to dedicate some time to one of, if not the best summer cocktail, the Brazilian-born caipirinha. Pronounce it "kai-purr-IN-ya."

The main (and only) spirit in caipirinhas is cachaça (say it with me: ca-SHA-sa), a liquor distilled from sugar cane juice. David Wondrich, top alcohol historian, thinks cachaça "looks like vodka and tastes like it was aged in old truck tires." I wouldn't go that far. Like many other liquors, aged cachaça has a much deeper flavor and is best sipped straight. Younger (read: cheaper) cachaça has a funkier flavor and is what I prefer for a great caipirinha.

The recipes you find on the back of cachaça bottles call for 2 tablespoons of sugar and only about an ounce of alcohol. I like my drinks more boozy and less sweet, so I've created my own! My favorite caipirinha only has 1 teaspoon of sugar. The kicker? I use brown sugar. The deep molasses flavor really works with the funkiness of the cachaça.

Photo by AR Cally

Other takes on the caipirinha:

Here's a nifty video showing how easy a classic caipirinha is to make.

Cachaça Isn't Just for Drinks!

Looking for something different? Here are a few other (non-cocktail!) ways you can use cachaça.

Photo by mauigirl

Planning a Brazilian-themed Olympics watch party? Leslie Kelly has great ideas for your feast.