Mojitos, no problems | Rock Candy

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mojitos, no problems

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 11:59 AM

As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter (and hotter), thoughts seem to naturally turn to rum—and the fresh, bright drinks it helps create. The mojito is a classic rum drink that plays to the combination of sugar and lime, lightening the rum through a splash of club soda and freshening everything with mint. It is a summer drink through and through.

Rum just makes sense with lime and sugar. It is a combination repeated often in the cocktail world. For a refreshing summer drink, a light rum comes into play paired with the freshness of mint. One of the great things about a mojito is that, like the Margarita , it can be varied with ease. The sweetness from the sugar can be augmented with any of the fresh fruits available while still maintaining the distinct combination of mint and lime to make the drink recognizable as a mojito. I know that the mojito’s reputation as work intensive can lead to fewer appearances on cocktail menus, but skip below for three great options around town.

Making the mojito at home can require a few extra steps, but it is certainly worth it. I’ll discuss two ways to make the drink depending on whether you are making a single serving or batching a large amount for a party or extended day of al fresco relaxation. Before we get to the recipe, I want to talk about using simple syrup and about the procedure of muddling.

On Simple Syrup

I prefer to use “simple syrup” in making my mojitos because it blends much easier than sugar. It is called “simple” because it is—heat sugar and water on the stove until they boil and then reduce to a simmer for five minutes. Let it cool and bottle it for storage. I use a 1:1 ratio of 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar, but if you like things sweeter you can use 2 cups of sugar without a problem. Don’t worry about the science right now, just trust me. This will last up to a week in the refrigerator, but a shot of vodka added to your simple syrup will get you at least a month.

If you are making these for a large batch, I recommend using a mint simple syrup to ease your drink-by-drink work. How do you do this, you may ask? Add about 30 mint leaves to the simple syrup recipe. Strain the leaves out after cooking.

click to enlarge JOEL DIPIPPA
  • Joel DiPippa

On Muddling

The reason a lot of bars, especially the busy ones, don’t like mojitos is the muddled mint leaves. Many bars, in a rush, crush and pulverize the mint leaves until they are broken down flotsam and jetsam in the glass. These little shreds get everywhere in the mixing glass, the drink, and even your teeth. It needn’t be that way. I don’t think you need the shredded mint leaves in the end cocktail, as you’ll see below, but you don’t need that much force. You need to lightly crush the leaves to let the oils and other volatile compounds out—or to “express” them in fancy terms. This can be accomplished with a lighter touch than you may think. I muddle my mint leaves with the simple syrup so that any oils that come out are trapped in my syrup and become part of the drink. If you are batching the drink with the mint simple syrup, you don’t even have to worry about it. The purest of recipes calls for muddling lime wedges into the drink—but I usually skip this step and just use lime juice at home, especially when making a big batch of mojitos.

Basic Mojito

*2oz. Light Rum
*1oz. Lime Juice plus a lime wedge for garnish
*1oz. Simple Syrup
*4-8 Mint Leaves plus a sprig for garnish
*Club Soda to top

Steps

Fill a Collins glass, or other tall glass with crushed ice and set aside.

Place the mint leaves with the simple syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass and lightly but thoroughly muddle. (Or just use 1oz of the mint simple syrup; if you are feeling fancy like me you can use both)

Add the rum and lime juice. Shake.

Strain the contents of the mixing glass into your ice filled Collins glass.

Top with club soda and garnish.

The lime, simple syrup and mint can all be adjusted to your personal tastes while additional fruits can be muddled in with the mint to create your own special combination.

click to enlarge JOEL DIPIPPA
  • Joel DiPippa
Big Batch of Mojitos

*2 Cups Light Rum
*1 Cup Lime Juice
*1 Cup Mint Simple Syrup
*Club Soda to top

Steps

Put the rum, lime juice, and mint simple syrup in a large container, like a punch bowl or jug cooler.

Stir until the simple syrup is dissolved.

Add as much ice as your container allows and stir until your arm is tired, or at least forty complete stirs.

Top with club soda and garnish as you wish.
 
Prefer to have others mix your drinks for you? Here are three suggestions for excellent mojito variations in Little Rock, and one of them is certain to suit your taste:

*Heights Taco and Tamale Co.

The frozen mojito is the signature drink of HTT and it is worth it. I am far from the first person to praise it, and I know that I will not be the last—but bear with me. It has a nice tang to it without being overly citrus. The rum is there, but never in the forefront allowing the mint to carry the flavors across instead. It is eminently sippable, and with a smooth frozen consistency has to be on your list of perfect summer drinks. HTT has made collectible coozies for your mojitos, but the difficulty of keeping those coozies in stock is a testament to this drink’s popularity.

click to enlarge JOEL DIPIPPA
  • Joel DiPippa

*The Fold

The Fold has a watermelon mojito on its summer drink menu, and I must say it is darn near perfect. It is a little sweeter than I usually like, but using Barritt’s ginger beer helps keep the drink balanced. The watermelon comes through loud and clear with the fruity sweetness you associate with watermelon, with the little bits of watermelon floating in the drink to remind you a real fruit was used for your pleasure. The lime is what is downplayed here, giving just enough to tie the drink together. It is light on the tongue without any lingering rummy or sugary legs. This is a drink that is instantly memorable and something you will think you *always* had as part of the summer.

click to enlarge JOEL DIPIPPA
  • Joel DiPippa

*Revolution Taco & Tequila Bar

This is the quintessential mojito with muddled lime wedges and mint. The citrus shines as a sharp contrast to the other flavors which is a testament to the freshly squeezed lime juice. The flavors are clean and this is a drink to have while relaxing on the rumba patio or getting ready for live music next door. You should also consider the Happy Hour where these little beauties are $5 each Tuesday through Friday from 4:00pm to 6:00pm.

click to enlarge JOEL DIPIPPA
  • Joel DiPippa

What’s your favorite mojito around town? What summer libation should we look at next or watering hole should get some attention? Sound off in the comments!

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