Tag Archives: cocktails

Mojitos: Celebrating, Cuban-style

4 May

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

Seltzer/club soda

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!


White Sangría Two Ways (Pimm’s or Limoncello aka: Limon-hello!)

22 Jul

The weather here in the Northeast has been so hot that TV reporters all over the country are frying eggs and heating pizza in the sun. That’s amusing enough for the evening news, but in my house we prefer to do something with more practical applications.

That would be…experimenting with white sangría!

What could be more refreshing after a day of debilitating heat than fruit, wine and a bit of fizz? Sangría usually takes brandy, but I didn’t have any so I broke out a couple of specialty bottles and we (Maryanne, Ashley and I, mostly Ashley) played around with them until we reached a happy, effervescent and refreshing place, safe from the suffocating claws of the heat wave.

Try these two recipes on for size. Pimm’s is a caramelly British alcoholic beverage that makes me think of big hats and horse races. Limoncello is a sweet-tart Italian elixir I first met when I lived in Rovereto, at the foot of the Italian Alps.

Note: we did not add ginger ale or sugar, except to the rims of the glasses as we found the drinks sweet enough as is, but feel free to add as desired!

Refreshing and ever so pretty!

White Sangría, Two Ways (Pimm’s or Limoncello)

First, cut up fruit as follows:
1 apple, chopped into small pieces
1 peach, chopped
1 orange, chopped
1/2 lemon, chopped and with peel removed

 Place fruit in pitcher.  Then add the ingredients for ONE of the following:

 Ingredients (Pimm’s version):

3 ½ cups dry white wine (pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, vinho verde, verdejo)
2 tablespoons Pimm’s
1 orange, sliced into thin pieces for the garnish                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Splash seltzer/ginger ale (optional)
½ cup sugar (enough to coat the edges of serving glasses)

Ingredients (Limoncello version):
3 ½ cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons Limoncello (Limon- “hello!” after a few glasses)!
1 lemon, sliced into thin pieces for the garnish                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Splash seltzer/ginger ale (optional)

Stir and pour over ice.

For the Pimm’s sangria: lay the sugar in a plate, dampen the rims of the glasses and dip in the sugar to coat. Garnish serving glasses with a slice of orange
For the Limoncello sangria:  Garnish serving glasses with a slice of lemon

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