For us, mojitos are the quintessential summer drink. Neither of us typically imbibe in rum, but something about the fresh mint and lime juice just screams “drink me” on a hot summer day. We dubbed them our drink of 2010, and we routinely served them to guests and enjoyed them ourselves last summer. While they are a little more complicated than cracking open a cold beer, it is worth the effort. This is how we do it.
Our first go at mastering the mojito was at our last apartment. We purchased all the ingredients at the store since we didn’t have a garden, and we set out to make a recipe from a book that we were given. It involved making a simple syrup on the stove. The only drawback was that I cooked homemade pad thai before Dain was done with the mojitos. They were awesome when they were done, but the “simple syrup” got the best of us. So we didn’t test our hands at mojitos again until last summer after my dad gave us mint from his garden to plant in ours. We also added pineapple mint and chocolate mint from the farmers’ market to our mint section. It flourished all summer long, and it all came back this year. We were warned that it grows like weeds, and it certainly does. We have enough mint growing right outside our door for all the mojitos we could ever make in a summer, which saves us about $3 for every batch we make.
So we are back in business for 2011 mojitos. Here’s what you need for our recipe: rum, club soda, powdered sugar, limes and mint. And a little bit of time.
While you can use pre-packaged lime juice, we really prefer fresh lime juice. So we start by juicing the limes, thanks to the juicer attachment on our KitchenAid mixer. But you certainly do not need this. Any kind of juicer will work or you can do it old school. We recommend rolling the limes on the counter to get the juices flowing if you’re going to do it by hand.
We juiced a 1 lb bag of limes from Trader Joe’s which equated to 8 small limes. It yielded just over a cup of lime juice. And we save a few slices for garnish. Then we pick our mint from our garden and thoroughly wash it. After it is squeaky clean, we pluck the leaves from the stems. The mint with the brown on the back of the leaves is the chocolate mint. It smells and tastes a lot like an Andes mint. The other mint is our trusty standby original mint. I prefer the plain mint while Dain adds a little chocolate mint to his mojitos.
Next, we put about 12-15 mint leaves in each glass, and we muddle it with one of our wooden muddlers. And this is key. A lot of bars offer mojitos where they just float a few mint leaves in the glass. That’s not worth $10 to me or the dirty look you usually get from the bartender. All you can taste is the club soda, which is why we take our muddling seriously. It allows the mint to break apart and the mint flavor to really soak into the liquid.
After the mint is muddled, we add about 1/4 cup of lime juice to each glass and two spoonfuls of powdered sugar. If you are using the store bought lime juice, start with a lot less and add more to taste at the end because it is very concentrated.
Then we stir it to dissolve all of the sugar into the lime juice. Next, we fill the glasses with plenty of ice. Then we add about 1/2 cup of rum to each glass. Don’t judge. We have big glasses. We realize shots are typically measured in ounces and are 1 1/2 to 2 oz each. So we double that coming in at 4 ounces. You can obviously adjust to suit your needs.
We top it off with club soda the rest of the way and stir it all together. Then we garnish it with a mint spring and a lime slice because why not make it feel like we are at a swanky bar in Miami. Finally, we add one or our reusable stainless steel straws, which we love. The end product is pretty deluxe for a warm night in the SLP.
When our pineapple mint comes in more, we are planning to make mojitos with that and pureed pineapple, which we think will be amazing. And we will always love our first summer drink, but we are thinking about moving on this year. Thanks to a book I received as a gift, Sangria is moving in as our summer drink of 2011. Strawberry Mint Sangria? Yes, please. Because we already have a whole lot of mint.
So you can have that to look forward to if you find yourself at our house on a warm summer night. And if you can’t tell, we are really hoping that the warm weather is going to come any day now.