There’s been so much good stuff going on in my world over the last two months that I have been too busy to stop to celebrate any of it!
Aside from my culinary dictionary finally being available to the public, I ran some successful events at the community college where I teach, delivered the keynote address at the annual gala of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese Metro NYC chapter, attended the national TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference in Philadelphia with some of my wonderful colleagues (and without my son for three nights – a monumental event for which I have to thank my parents!), attended the Small Farms Summit here on Long Island, planted a garden in the brand-new raised boxes that my dad and his friend built and…even got a hair cut and color (which alone would be cause for celebration, given how I was feeling about my hair). I have even managed to drop enough weight to be back into all my clothes (I was very cavalier about the figure this winter, but have since reined it in).
Things have slowed down a bit now, so last weekend it was time to catch my breath with a celebratory cocktail. Or two. At the same time, I realized that the mint was up in the garden. Put these two elements together, and the only logical conclusion was to bust out the rum and make a mojito! Or two.
A mojito is really a Cuban drink — and I have been fortunate enough to have had quite a few of them in Cuba itself, including one memorable evening on the patio of the Hotel Nacional in Havana, listening to Compay Segundo in one of his last live performances, sharing a honking big Churchill-size Cohiba cigar and some Havana Club silver rum in very good company, and feeling almost sheepish about how much fun it was to live like Hemingway for a bit. I believe my divorce papers were getting signed at the time too, in some other country, so you can imagine my satisfaction at spending that moment in fabulous and exotic circumstances far-far away from what’s-his-name.
In my world, mojitos are liquid triumph.
For rum I now use Don Q Cristal from Puerto Rico, my preferred white rum for mixed drinks. You will want a rum with a very clean, crispness. As it turns out, my mint was a bit more toothpaste-spearminty than I usually like, but the result was exceedingly refreshing.
As with any traditional recipe, I expect to hear from many folks saying that this is not at all the way to make an authentic mojito. And as with any traditional recipe, I will answer that there are as many ways to make it as there are bartenders in the world. But of course, I would love to hear your suggestions!
Thanks to Ashley for being my partner in crime on this one, and for taking the notes while I did the mixing. The recipe has quite a bit of editorializing, most (but not all) came from her!
3 tsp sugar
16-20 large mint leaves
2 big, fat Tbs white rum (Don Q Cristal is a personal favorite)
½ Tbs lime
Muddle (mush up, but don’t pound) sugar and mint in a mortar and pestle or in two glasses (Ashley says: don’t muddle the mint too much or else the mint particles go up your straw. And into your mouth. And then your drink sucks.)
Fill two glasses with ice (highball, lowball, it’s up to you). Divide rum between the two glasses. Pour lime juice over rum and shake a bit to cover. Add sugar-mint muddle, if it wasn’t in the glasses already, and stir gently.
Remember that you are supposed to add club soda/seltzer. Open bottle over sink (because since you forgot about it, you didn’t refrigerate it, so the seltzer is warm and apt to fizz all over). Pour ¼ cup seltzer atop each glass and serve. Salud!