Last month I came across an article about how you can tell a lot about someone by the way they take their drinks, and I've been secretly observing my friends' drink habits ever since. It's fascinating! Do they take their coffee with a splash of milk in the morning and with sugar after lunch? (They're easygoing & laid back.) Enjoy a little Glenlivet in the afternoon? (An artist!) Margarita with colleagues after work? (The year-round spring-breaker.) Drink wine only after eight? (Responsible to the nth degree.)
As a rule, I like my morning coffee black (moody) and my tea with a lump of sugar (dangerous!). I like a glass of Rosé while I cook; whisky on rare winter evenings; martinis stirred & dirty. (I prefer sandals & sundresses; tend to be melancholy; am trying too hard!) And I've never been one for fruity cocktails. (Boring!)
Last week, though, I broke my rule and made Mojitos in the afternoon. They were inspired by an iced tea I had a few years ago that was sweetened with ginger and vanilla syrup. The combination is amazing! In fact, they make such nice partners, they appear side-by-side and hand-in-hand in many of my recipes.
Incidentally, that same article claimed that Mojitos were "the official drink of fun people" who want to get revenge on bartenders. (True!) It turns out that it's one of the top 4 drinks which bartenders hate to prepare most. (The Lemon Drop, the Manhattan and a Cosmopolitan are up there, too). It makes sense - muddling the mint leaves takes time - just a little - but too much for the busy, Friday night bar scene. Anything worth drinking, though, is worth doing right, so give your bartender a break - Mojitos are even more FUN to make at home. Here's how:
Vanilla - Ginger Mojito(makes 2 drinks)
10 mint leaves
3 oz light rum
1.5 oz ginger simple syrup (see recipe below)
1.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 oz sparkling water
I never buy simple syrup - it's incredibly easy to make in the microwave and can be made in small batches. I make only as much as I need. I love infusing it with whatever flavors will compliment my drink. I make a raspberry version with fresh raspberries, I've added star anise and vanilla, and even rosemary.
To make the ginger syrup place 3 TBSP water in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Add 3 TBSP sugar and 3 - 4 slices of peeled, fresh ginger. Microwave until the water comes to a boil (this is about 40 seconds in my microwave). Stir to dissolve the sugar and let cool. Remove the ginger and use in your drinks.
To make the Mojitos, muddle the mint leaves in a cocktail shaker. Place ice in the shaker, then add the rum, simple syrup, lime juice and vanilla. Shake until well blended and very cold. Strain into two glasses filled with ice and top each with 1.5 oz sparkling water. Garnish with a lime slice and a few mint leaves.