Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Mojito

I found myself out in Beaverton last weekend at Hall Street Grill. The mojito was featured as one of their specialty cocktails. I love a good mojito, so I gave it a try. It was fresh and the amount of lime was about right; however, it could have used more fresh mint and some muddling to bring out the mint flavor. I tried to muddle the few mint leaves myself with the accompanying plastic straws, and it actually seemed to help. I ordered a second one, so I guess, overall, it was alright.

I had no idea when I discovered the drink - it must be at least six years ago now, at Salvador Molly's - that they were about to become so popular. They did. With that popularity, some horrible versions of the drink and some disgusting mixers have emerged. There are some good mojitos out there, but I've found homemade ones are best because the ingredients are fresh and you can adjust the amounts of lime, mint, and sugar to your liking.

They’re fun to make too. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy mashing and bashing a few mint leaves with a stick? I even bought myself a muddler. I got a basic wooden one which I didn't really put much thought into. I just liked how it felt in my hand, and it looked like it would do the job adequately. Recently though, I’ve noticed there’s quite the selection of muddlers out there - walnut, beechwood, bamboo, plastic, stainless steel, silicone or plastic heads, a variety of shapes and colors, and prices ranging from about $6 to $20. I think I paid $10 for mine, and I don’t even know what kind of wood it is. I like it, and it works great. Did I get lucky or maybe (probably) it doesn’t really matter what kind of muddler one uses? The broad selection is just part the muddling mojito craze. Actually, an official muddler isn't necessary at all to make the drink. I’d pass on the plastic straw option, but a wooden spoon works just fine.

You'll see a lot of recipes that call for simple syrup or homemade mint syrup, but it's not really necessary for a great drink. When you make your own, just be sure to have lots of fresh mint on hand, and remember you can adjust the ingredients to your liking.


For one drink:

15 to 20 fresh mint leaves - rinsed
2 tsp superfine sugar
5 Tbsp light rum
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
4 to 6 Tbsp chilled soda water
ice cubes

In an 8 to 10 oz glass, combine mint leaves and sugar. With a wooden spoon or muddler, pound mint leaves and sugar to coarsely crush. Add rum and lime juice, and mix well. Fill glass with ice cubes and top with soda water. Give it a gentle stir, and enjoy.

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