SPONSORED Summer is officially here. I am peeling slightly from the sunburn I got on Sunday, and that’s OK. It’s (almost) June and I’m ready for more. There is a certain cocktail on my mind that is synonymous with hot, steamy weather. It has an exotic history (Pirates! Cuba! Hemingway!) and it’s most refreshing when you have managed to get the sun on your shoulders or the sand in your toes. Not everyone can make a good one, so it’s a great cocktail to practice and master before summer is in full swing. It's the mojito. There are a few things that you need for a classic mojito. It’s a bit more labor intensive than many cocktails, but worth the extra effort.
First, muddle fresh mint (Put those herb gardens to use!) into the bottom of your highball/Collins glass. You will need a long, cocktail muddler, or use the back of a long spoon. The trick is to muddle gently, bruise enough to release the oils from the mint, but don’t mash it. Don’t flake or cut up the mint or they will end up sucked into your straw. Practice makes perfect for this step, as the well-muddled mint is the key to the drink. Next, add fresh-squeezed lime juice from one lime (about two ounces). Fresh squeezed is required! Next, add two teaspoons of sugar. I think confectioner’s sugar is the best if you have it, but any will do as long as you stir until completely dissolved. Top the mint/lime juice with crushed ice almost to the top of the glass. Now add one and one-half ounces of high quality rum. 10 Cane and Ron Matusalem are two of my favorites. One great thing about rum (comparatively speaking) is it's pretty inexpensive for higher-quality versions. The better the rum, the better the mojito! Give the glass a good swizzle. Top it off with a splash of club soda or sparkling water and a lime wedge. I highly recommend serving this drink with a straw or a swizzle stick to keep the mint moving. Once you have mastered the classic version, feel free to have some fun with it! Try the Stirrings Mojito glass-rimmer that is made from citrus-mint sugar and muddle a few blueberries in with the mint. Or add a splash of sparkling wine instead of sparkling water. I’m most excited about a product we just introduced in the Cheese Shop: Heath Glen Ginger-Lime Syrup. It’s locally and organically made from fresh lime juice, pure cane sugar, water, fresh root ginger. Use it in place of the sugar, to add an amazing ginger-zing to your mojito, which sounds delicious to me. Just keep everything simple, fresh, and high quality for the best result. Now, go find your old copy of The Old Man & the Sea, sip, and enjoy. Cheers! - Lindsey Coleman