There are a lot of fancy cocktails out there. Beautiful, handcrafted drinks whose ingredients are meticulously measured out under the watchful eye of a (probably super hip) mixologist. These are glorious to enjoy, sipped slowly in a cozy bar with lots of dark wood, low lighting and maybe even some muted mood music in the background.
But when summer rolls around, my appetite for mostly brown liquor-based Manhattans and Sidecars wanes and all I want to drink is cold Bud Light. Kidding! (Kinda.) But honestly, I do find myself drawn to refreshing drinks mostly served on the rocks. It's a more casual affair once the temperature rises and everyone's favorite muddled drink, the mojito, couldn't be more popular.
But you don't have to go to a bar to enjoy it. Beverage consultant and "Liquid Chef" Kim Haasarud's newest book, 101 Mojitos & Other Muddled Drinks, offers up ways to serve up the Cuban classic in a number of bright and delicious variations that will surely get you through the summer (at least). She keeps everything simple, fresh and high-quality to ensure an ideal muddled concoction. After all, these warm-weather drinks are meant to be fun! Try some of Kim's variations on the "perfect" mojito and let us know what you think.
The Perfect Mojito10 to 15 mint leaves, plus sprig for garnish
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup (see recipe in Pineapple-Ginger Mojito below)
2 ounces premium rum (such as 10 Cane, Bacardi Superior, Cruzan, etc.)
Splash of soda water
In the bottom of a rocks glass, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup. (Muddle lightly to just release the oils in the mint, do not pulverize the leaves.) Add the rum. Top with crushed ice and the soda water. Stir well from the bottom up. Garnish with the mint sprig and serve.
Pineapple-Ginger Mojito¼ cup fresh pineapple chunks
10 mint leaves
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup (see recipe below)
1 1⁄2 ounces 10 Cane rum
1⁄2 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1 ounce ginger beer or ginger ale
Pineapple wedge or leaf and candied ginger (optional), for garnish
In a tall glass, muddle the pineapple chunks with the mint leaves, lime juice, and simple syrup. Add the rum and ginger liqueur. Top with crushed ice and ginger beer. Stir well from the bottom up. Garnish with the pineapple wedge and candied ginger, if desired.
Makes enough for about 10 Mojitos
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely, then bottle and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Strawberry-Pineapple Caipirinha2 ripe strawberries, hulled, plus 1 strawberry half for garnish
cup fresh pineapple chunks, plus wedge for garnish
4 lime wedges
1 ounce simple syrup (see recipe in Pineapple-Ginger Mojito above)
2 ounces cachaça
Fill a rocks glass with ice and set aside. In a mixing glass, muddle 2 of the strawberries with the pineapple chunks, lime wedges, and simple syrup. Add the cachaça and top with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the iced rocks glass. (Because this drink contains so much pulp and fruit, I like to strain it. But if you like a lot of fruit pulp, pour the shaken contents into the glass.) Garnish with the strawberry half and pineapple wedge.
Raspberry Smash4 ripe raspberries, plus 1 for garnish
4 lemon wedges
1 ounce raspberry syrup (such as Monin) or simple syrup (see recipe in Pineapple-Ginger Mojito above)
4 or 5 mint leaves, plus sprig for garnish
2 ounces cognac
In a rocks glass, muddle 4 of the raspberries with the lemon wedges, raspberry syrup, and mint leaves. Add the cognac and top with ice. Pour into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice in the rocks glass. Garnish with the mint sprig and remaining raspberry.