Have you ever tasted the two most famous and popular brazilian drinks?
It would be unthinkable for you spend some holidays in Brazil and not to try Guaraná and Caipirinha.
However, if you don't drink alcohol of any kind, forget about the latter because it's based on Cachaça. More on this later.
Native from the Amazon basin, Guaraná fruit comes from a climbing plant and is about the size of a coffee bean, but it shouldn't be taken lightly by any means, it contains about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans and it's called Guaranine.
In fact, about 2/4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1/2% for coffee beans.
Associated with its caffeine content, Guaraná is also a component of energy drinks and weight loss pills, becoming more popular in US and Europe nowadays due to its natural properties as strong stimulant, appetite suppresser and other side effects you wouldn't risk until talking first to your GP.
Beyond that, Guaraná is sweet and enjoyable, a tremendously popular brazilian drink, as much as cola-based sodas.
It's available as carbonated drink and mainly commercialized under the name of Guaraná Antarctica and Guaraná Brahma - both Antarctica and Brahma are also major beer brewers in the country.
Equally popular, Caipirinha is a different story altogether, it's the brazilian cocktail par excellence, not any longer confined to Brazil's borders but available just about anywhere in the world today.
Ingredients are: crushed lime, cachaça (pronounced ka-sha-sa), sugar and ice cubes.
Cachaça (also known as "aguardente", "pinga", "caninha" or "a brava" - meaning the nasty one) is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented sugarcane, typically between 38% and 54% alcohol by volume.
It's usually found unaged (white colour) or aged in wooden barrels for up to 15 years (gold colour). An aged cachaça is meant to be drunk straight.
Guess we could say that cachaca is to Brazil what rum to Cuba, pisco to Peru and Chile,vodka to Russia and Poland, single malt whisky to Scotland and Ireland, cognac to France, and the list could go on and on.
There are also some variations of Caipirinha such as Caipiroshka (using vodka instead of cachaça), Saquerinha (with sake) and Caipiríssima (white rum).
But we're here to talk about brazilian drinks, aren't we? so let's move on and learn how to prepare a capirinha so you can impress your friends next time around with a connoisseur's cocktail they might not have heard of.
This Caipirinha recipe is a courtesy of Brazil.help.com.
There are other popular brazilian drinks (with alcohol in them) such as: Batidas, Meia de Seda, Aluá, and Porradinha.
However, if you'd like to remain on the healthy side just stick to Guaraná and many different juices made of: açaí, cupuaçu, siriguela, mango, jaca, etc, or try the (very) sweet Garapa (sugar cane juice).