The World's Greatest Beer-jito

The following all actually happened.

I was watching TV a few days ago when on came a commercial for the new Bud Light Lime Mojito. My first reaction was to groan, and to recall the cases of Coors Light Iced T that have been stacked near the checkout lines at my local supermarket for weeks; those also make me groan, anew, each time I must sidle by them to pay for my thrice-weekly pint of ice cream habit groceries.

But my second reaction to the mojito beer was, shockingly (shocking I say!), this: That sounds pretty good, actually.

I've tasted the various Miller Chills and other fruit-flavored swills that have hit the market in recent years. The problem is obviously not the citrus-lager pairing; we've all been thumbing lime wedges down our Corona longnecks since we were kids (unless we're Irish, in which case we've been mixing beer and lemonade) and it's still a flavor combo that hits the spot on a sweltering day. The problem is how it tastes when it's not an actual lime being used as a flavor agent; that artificialime nonsense is gag-worthy (that goes for you, too, Diet Coke Lime).

But you think about a mojito, it's just a little light sweetness (rum, spoonful of sugar) playing along with mint and lime. And then you think about a light beer -- it's as barely-there as Bacardi. I wanted to give it a shot.

And what I found is that it was so good (so good, I tell you!) that, more than any other cocktail that's passed my lips during my pregnancy (and yes, I've still got my one-sip rule in place) it was damn near torture to keep myself from sucking down the whole thing. Turns out that all along, a mojito's never realized how much it misses the hoppy-yeasty whateverness of a lager.

Of course, it does take a few extra f lairs to make a beer-jito the World's Greatest Beer-Jito. It needs a shot-ish of booze, because with beer alone as the source of alcohol, the drink is kickless. It could stand for a tall, handsome sort of glass just to dress/mature it up a bit. And it needs a lager more respectable than an actual Bud Light, because come on, what am I in high school? (I am not in high school.)

The World's Greatest Beer-jito

1 ounce Akvinta Vodka

5 ounces Red Stripe

2 lime wedges

6-8 mint leaves

Pinch of sugar

Lime wedge and/or mint sprig, to garnish

Muddle lime, mint and sugar in the bottom of a Collins glass. Fill glass with ice. Add vodka, then beer. Garnish.

Tasting Notes

Why I use vodka? Why I no use rum? The honest answer is, rum didn't even occur to me (didn't even occur, I say!) and Akvinta was on my mind because a bottle had recently been sent to me. (This my blogger's confession of things I get sent for free, is that sufficient, FCC?) I would slightly hesitate to suggest rum, obvs though it may be, because I wouldn't want to tip over from crisp into saccharine on the overall flavor profile. I also bet tequila rocks in this.

1 Comment
Print Friendly and PDF

The World's Greatest Mojito

In Sean's Ph.D. program, there lives a British lad named Harold Thorrington, all of 22 or 23 years of age. Of course his name is Harold Thorrington, for he is so very, very British, and of course his mates call him Harry. Harry Thorrington looks like the cuddly-button love child of Tony Blair and Paddington Bear. Really, his name is just so terribly goddamned British -- the very utterance of it makes me want to punch a crumpet.

Like many British blokes with few years and countless pints under their pudgy belts, Harry (who really is quite lovely and keeps me in stitches, I must say) only knows how to drink one way: More. Before the holidays, he confessed to me the three cocktails he'd ever consumed, at least to his recollection: a mojito, a Cosmopolitan and... oh, pish posh, I can't remember the third. Doesn't matter. The point is, I assured him he'd certainly had very bad versions of those drinks, wherever he'd had them, and I resolved to make him the World's Greatest versions soon.

I am the master mojito maker. Ask anyone who's ever had one of mine at The Royale in St. Louis. Facebook posts odes have been composed in humble praise of my mojitos! Texts are sent across thousands of wireless miles, expressing dismay that I am no longer located in the Central time zone, where I would be called upon to fashion the birthday mojitos of aging Midwesterners! And yet I've never mentioned my mojito mojo here. Why? Because mojito-making magic isn't held in high esteem as it was six-ish years ago. It's like bragging that you finally figured out all the lyrics to "I Like the Way You Move."

And yet! The fact remains that mojitos are fantastic when properly made -- "one of the world's greatest [Ed. note: Told ya!] and most refreshing cocktails," to quote one source -- and certainly their reputation as the unofficial cocktail of Cuba is buttressed by enough history to trump whatever flyspeck of uncoolness they might be yoked with at this particular nanomoment in pop culture. Fucking Hemingway himself once wrote, "It wasn't just a drink. It was a symbol of national pride." Harry Thorrington thinks you're a wanker if you don't agree.

The World's Greatest Mojito

(You can find recipes any and everywhere; this one comes straight from my heart, and muscle memory, during my time at The Royale)

1 1/2 to 2 ounces 10 Cane rum

About 6-10 fresh mint leaves, depending on size

Half a lime

About a tablespoon of simple syrup

Club soda

Grabbing the mint leaves as a bunch between thumb and forefinger, tear them once through and drop into the bottom of a highball glass. Squeeze lime onto leaves, then drop it into glass as well. Cover all of this with your tablespoon (more if needed) of simple syrup. Muddle, muddle, muddle! Fill with ice. Pour in rum. Fill with club soda. Give a gentle stir or two with a bar spoon or swizzle stick before drinking.

Tasting Notes

The details are most important when making a mojito. Different mojito recipes will call for a Collins glass, a soda glass, something fat and round, something tall and slim. I like a highball glass, by which I mean, a glass in which you'd be served a liquor, neat. (I don't mean a shot glass.) I don't make my mojitos like they're coolers to sip through a straw, I make them like they're cocktails meant to be sipped slowly. Through your lips. Like a grownup. Jesus.

I suggest 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of rum in case you do have to use a larger glass, or if you want a stronger-tasting mojito. Some people like to taste the rum more when they drink mojitos.

As I do with my mint juleps, I use just enough leaves to completely cover the bottom of the glass, and I tear them all exactly once. Some people say never to tear mint leaves because you're "bruising" them and this can actually sour the taste of the mint. I say, save that shit for Temple Grandin. (She developed cow-slaughtering systems to make beef taste better, see, by... you know what, forget it, probably a bad example.)

Anyway, what's important is that as soon as you get your leaves and lime down in the bottom of the glass, cover it all with the simple syrup so that all your flavor molecules stay trapped under a syrup blanket instead of wafting up and out of the glass. Muddle until you're sick of muddling; listen for the crunch of the leaves' veins, and muddle the lime to get more juice out of it. (That is the fun part.)

Don't use mint-infused simple syrup, because it's got a brownish-green tint that the white rum won't be able to mask and your cocktail will look like sewage. If you really insist on using mint-infused syrup, then make a special batch where you're letting the mint leaves steep in the syrup only until the second you start to see a coloration.

Use regular ice cubes.

Use 10 Cane white rum, or whatever white rum you like that's not Bacardi. Bacardi gives off a cheap aftertaste which can only be covered by overdoing it on the simple syrup. You don't want that. The 10 Cane is made from cane sugar (not cheapo molasses) and tastes very nice and clean.

Use fresh club soda!

In the end, you want the cocktail to have a cloudy look to it. This means you achieved a good ratio of ingredients and stirred a proper amount. Some mint leaves may inevitably climb up the  glass but the majority of your leaves should definitely remain at the bottom. Don't worry if the drink tastes sweeter as you go, but it also shouldn't taste all-alcohol on the first sip.

3 Comments
Print Friendly and PDF

The Maple Mint Fizz

How did I never manage to invent the Maple Mint Fizz myself? Why did I have to move to Montreal to discover it?

The answer to the first question is: I did come close with the Martelorre (Maker's, lemon, mint, ginger beer). To answer my second question: Because Le LAB is where everything wonderful, like Maple Mint Fizzes, happens, and also because only in Canada would "our variation of the mojito" include maple syrup.

As a north-of-the-border mojito substitute, the Maple Mint Fizz (I love saying those three words together!) was rotated off LAB's menu with the onset of autumn. But as a south-of-the-border expat, I find fall to be the perfect time to indulge in maple-flavored treats, even if they also call for summertime-y limes and mint leaves.

The lime, in fact, is what makes this cocktail for me, imparting a great, sourtastic, unexpected twist of je-ne-say-wha? If I had ever thought to invent this drink, I'm not sure I would've come up with the lime part. Damn it, LAB, you've done it again.

The Maple Mint Fizz

(Adapted from Le LAB)

2 ounces Maker's Mark bourbon

7-Up

A small handful of mint leaves

A splash or two of lime juice

A splash or two of maple syrup

Take several mint leaves, tear once, and drop into the bottom of a Collins glass. Pour splash of lime juice on top, then cover the whole thing with just-enough maple syrup. Muddle. Fill glass with ice, add Maker's Mark and fill with 7-Up.

1 Comment
Print Friendly and PDF