If I had to nail down a favorite cocktail, (although I must admit, I try to be an equal opportunity cocktail drinker) my favorite would be the classic mojito. This refreshing cocktail is made of 5 simple ingredients: Lime juice, fresh mint, rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane syrup), and club soda. Originating in Cuba, the drink combines tart lime with fresh sweet mint, all to compliment the clean kick of white (or dark, depending on your preference) rum. To me, there is nothing more refreshing or satisfying on a hot day than a well-prepared mojito.
To make a mojito, lime juice is added to mint and sugar in the bottom of a glass (a highball is the glass of choice for this particular cocktail – its so pretty you need to show it off!) The three ingredients are then mashed with a muddler. A muddler is a long stick with a flat bottom that helps to crush and release the juices and oils from the mint and lime. I like to use sugar syrup in place of granulated so that the sugar dissolves completely. (There is nothing worse than a clump
of sugar swimming around in the bottom of your glass.) To stay as authentic as possible, I make a sugar syrup using sugar in the raw, which helps to impart an “island” flavor to the drink. (Sugar in the raw is an unrefined sugar that is made from sugar cane juice.) Once you have created a great slurry of fresh flavors, add the rum, ice, a splash of soda and you are ready to go! Sit back and enjoy.
Once you have mastered the original, you can try some great variations on this classic summer cocktail. (It can technically be a Spring cocktail because of its addition of mint – which is a Spring harvest herb.) For that matter, it can be a cocktail any time of year, as far as I am concerned, but it really is best enjoyed on a hot day or with spicy or Caribbean food. If you want to spice up your mojito, adding additional flavors is actually very easy. To create these three fruit mojitos, (pictured from right to left Classic, Passion Fruit, Watermelon, & Blackberry) there are only a few simple additions to the drink. I recently saw some whole passion fruits at my local grocery. A rare sight in a suburban CT grocery store, I knew I would have to take advantage. Mojitos were the perfect choice. To add a little passion, I kicked up the cocktail with passion fruit nectar (a canned juice product offered by Goya – check your international isle) and fresh passion fruit pulp and seeds. Watermelon was an easy twist by simply adding cubes of watermelon before I muddled. When I crushed the lime and mint, I crushed the watermelon as well and easily turned it into liquid. Blackberry is much the same and only requires a couple of berries. Like the watermelon, simply throw in 5-6 berries with the lime and mint and muddle away! The mashing will release the juices of the blackberries and instantly your mojito has been kicked up a notch. Not only do these variations add an extra element of flavor, the fun colors also help to jazz up the cocktail. (But please, don’t get me wrong – I will stay a purist and say that the original will always have a special place in my heart.)
So next time you are grilling out or having friends over for drinks, try making a round of mojitos for everyone. If you really want to get creative set up a mojito bar at your next party. Lay out bowls of lime, mint, and various fruit additions (in this case, passion fruit juice, cubed watermelon and fresh blackberries). Leave a couple of muddlers on the table, along with the rum, sugar syrup, and soda and allow your guests to create their own customized mojitos.
Whether for a party, or just for a special treat, I promise you won’ t be disappointed in the combination of fresh, tart and sweet. It’s summer in a glass!
Recipe: Classic Mojito
Recipe: Passion Fruit Mojito
Recipe: Watermelon Mojito
Recipe: Blackberry Mojito
p.s. Scott would like me to inform you all that as CTO (Cheif Technology Offier) of the blog, he has included a new feature which allows you to enlarge a photo simply by clicking on it. Look for our fun new feature on this and upcomming blog posts.