Blame it on Rio

 

No need to book a ticket to Brazil, here's where you can score a samba-worthy caipirinha.

caipirinha image
Thongs, samba, and caipirinhas: we love Brazil.
 

By Paula Nino

Brazil's national cocktail is becoming hot just about everywhere, including Miami bars and restaurants. Made with cachaça, pronounced "ka-SHA-sa," a sugar cane spirit, limes, sugar and ice, this refreshing cocktail is a little tart, a little sweet and very potent. You'll find traditional caipirinhas in Miami's many Brazilian restaurants, but the popular cocktail has sprung up in non-Brazilian boites, too. Bartenders are getting creative, offering flavored versions of the drink including strawberry, kiwi and passion fruit caipirinhas -- nearly as many variations as the now-mainstream mojito.

Here, we feature our five favorite caipirinhas of the moment.

Boteco
This relatively new arrival to the 79th Street Causeway serves a mean caipirinha at a very decent price ($5). Served in a small glass and packed with lots of crushed lime, these cocktails go down easy -- so easy you may lose count of how many you've downed. Enjoy it in the restaurant's covered patio while you listen to the beats of live samba on the weekends. If you'd like an alternative to the traditional, try the caipiruva, like a caipirinha but made with crushed white grapes instead of lime. It's pure sweetness.
916 NE 79th St., Miami; 305-757-7735

Grimpa Steakhouse
The caipirinha at this Brazilian steakhouse in Mary Brickell Village comes with a higher price tag ($12) and a lot of authenticity. Served in a short funnel-shaped glass, this drink contains abundant limes, finely sliced, and just the right amount of sugar -- two tablespoons, according to our bartender. If you want to eat, but you're not up for the $44.50-per-person rodizio, order the linguiça and picanha (sausage and sirloin) appetizer ($15) sold at Grimpa's elegant bar or patio and wash it down with your caipirinha. The house keeps four kinds of cachaça on the shelf, so taste, contrast and compare. On a budget? Stop by between 5-6 p.m. any weekday for free caipirinhas; show up between 6-7 p.m. and pay half price.
901 Brickell Plaza, Miami; 305-455-4757

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Michael's is probably not the first place you'd think of going to for a caipirinha, but when you find yourself sitting at the bar without reservations, you just might have a chance to try it. Made with Leblon cachaça, the caipirinha here goes easy on the lime, and it's quite tasty - the perfect complement to a snack portion of crispy hominy. Sized a bit larger than most other caipirinhas around town, at $10, the price is right. As if you needed another reason to visit Michael's...
130 NE 40th St., Miami; 305-573-5550

Piola
Some complain that the caipirinha at this Lincoln Road pizza place is too sweet. Compared to other versions, it might be, but the caipirinha here still refreshes and packs a punch. If you're in the area or leaving the nearby movie theater, drop by the bar just for a cocktail, fine on its own or served alongside one of Piola's 80 pizzas. Don't forget to check out the artwork on the walls - before you start seeing double. Pay half price for drinks during Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m.
1625 Alton Rd.; 305-674-1660

Jaguar
Don't miss out on the refreshing caipirinha at this trendy Latin American restaurant and ceviche spoon bar. The caipirinha, priced at $7.95, goes well with Jaguar's many ceviches (served in one-bite portions), Mexican dishes or juicy skirt steak. If you want to stick to the Brazilian theme, order the picanha. Come by on weekdays from 4-7p.m., when caipirinhas are only $5.45. Very happy hours indeed.
3067 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove; 305-444-0216

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