Summer is just around the corner and with it comes all sorts of wonderfulness like strawberries, sunshine, swimming pools, and fresh mint! The one thing that makes mojitos a summer drink – at least here in the Pacific Northwest – is the mint. Limes and the rest of the ingredients are available year round.
Now, I have a pretty high opinion of my mojitos and can make a mean version, strong enough to contend with the best professionals, if I do say so. When I’m out on a summers eve and have the hankering, I’ll ask the wait staff if the bartender makes a good mojito. I do this by raising one eye brow, tilting my head to one side and giving an expression of skepticism IE you had best tell me the truth because I know my mojitos and sometimes, I even tell them so. Usually, I’m given rave reviews. In fact, I can’t think of a time when the waiter said they were crap. I can think of plenty of times when they should have said they were crap, but didn’t.
Of course, it all boils down to personal taste, but I figure you’re not drinking a mojito if you don’t like whats in it. So as far as I’m concerned, don’t skimp on the green stuff. IE the mint and the lime. Now, I’d almost go so far to say I prefer a floating garden in my glass, but I know that’s not for everyone. Not to mention, you had better be drinking with a trusted friend that will inform you if anything green gets stuck in your teeth.
Another key and critical element is sweetness. Mojitos are made with sugar and are a sweeter drink – compared to say a Martini. Now how sweet is up to who is making them, but there is sugar or simple syrup (sometimes both) in a mojito. It really ticks me off when they are made without any trace of sugar, plus it’s a poor tasting drink. Now, I have researched (on-line) and have found recipes that don’t include sugar and I don’t know why. If Bacardi and Malibu (see recipe links below) both make their mojitos with sugar or simple syrup, and they are somewhat of an authority on rum and how to make a proper cocktail, I’d say that mojitos probably should have sugar in them!
For my recipe, you will need:
Sugar and Simple Syrup
White or Silver (clear) Rum
Ice Tea Spoon
I like to get everything out and on the counter before I start just so I know I have everything. I wash the lime(s) and slice it into wedges and put them in a little bowl. I also wash and pat dry the mint before removing the leaves and put them into their own small bowl. I make each drink individually.
First I put several mint leaves (8-12) into a tall glass. I add a spoon full of regular sugar and muddle. This is important because the grittiness of the sugar helps to break the mint down and release it’s oils and aroma. Then add one or two narrow lime wedges and muddle again. Add 2 oz. of rum and give the glass a swirl to mix the alcohol, sugar, mint and lime. Add desired amount of ice. Add a splash of simple syrup. Fill the glass with club soda, leaving a little room to tinker if you need to. I always leave room in the glass, especially if you are making the drinks for others. Give the mixture a good stir with a long spoon and taste test. You can always add more of something to customize the drink to your (or your guests) taste.
A little trick for limes, is to roll them on a board with the palm of your hand with a fair amount of pressure. Limes are notoriously hard and this practice makes them a bit softer and easier to yield the juice.
Sometimes I like to add a little chiffonade basil for an additional herbal component. In fact, one time I had no mint and was in the mood for a mojito and just used basil instead. It was really quite good. But that’s as experimental with my mojitos as I get. I don’t really like to mess with a classic, especially when the original version is the one I like best.
I honestly don’t measure anything except the rum. By now I have made enough of them, I know just how I like it. I do however, still leave some room to tinker. But recently I find I really don’t need to.
As far as the simple syrup goes, it’s super easy! You can make your own – equal parts sugar and water, in a sauce pan on medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once cool, pour into a clear glass container or bottle and store with an air tight lid in the fridge. Or, simply look in the cocktail section of most grocers and liquor stores and find it pre-made for you.
In conclusion, there is nothing better than a refreshing Mojito on a warm summers day. To me they taste of summer – fresh, light and slightly sweet.