Drink This, Garden Rant Cocktail Hour

Mason Jar Cocktails

First, go out and get the best fruit you can find.  Ripe, juicy, almost past-their-prime peaches and nectarines would be a good start.  Watermelons or cantaloupes should also be very high on the list.  Strawberries will work, but a firmer fruit like a mango might not. You want more juice than pulp for a drink like this.

Get at least a dozen fresh limes as well.  No bottled lime juice allowed.

You’re also going to need a bunch of mint. If you’re not growing it already, pick up a plant at the farmer’s market and get that started for next time.   You need spearmint, not peppermint, and if you can find it, get a variety called ‘Mojito Mint,’ which purports to be an actual Cuban strain, or ‘Kentucky Colonel,’ the classic Southern mint julep variety. Grow it in a pot to keep it from taking over, and start a new pot from a runner every few years to keep the flavor fresh, as older plants get a little tough and lose some sweetness. (Log House Plants supplies 'Mojito Mint' to indie nurseries on the West Coast; both are also available from Richters, which is in Canada but ships to the US.)

Now go pick up some rum and, for a variation I’ll get to in a minute, some tequila.  Mojitos are traditionally made with silver (unaged) rum, but amazing things happen to rum when you put it in a barrel, so I’m in favor of sneaking some dark rum in, too. Do yourself a favor and buy something decent. After all, if you’re not much of a drinker, the bottle will last forever, and if you are a drinker—well, you’ve made the commitment, so drink good booze.  Cruzan rums are perfectly nice, and St. Lucia Distillers has been winning some awards lately, so give them a try.  For tequila, I’m drinking a lovely 123 reposado tequila that will make you love tequila even if you’ve been burned before. If you can’t find that, Espolón is also great, and reasonably priced at just over twenty bucks.

If you want to get fancy and you’re feeling a long-term relationship with fruity, rum-based drinks coming on, pick up a bottle of Velvet Falernum at the liquor store, too.  This is a sweet, spicy syrup that adds a little indefinable something to tropical drinks.  Ever noticed how that drink you had on St. Croix never tastes as good when you make it at home?  Short of a ticket back to the islands, Velvet Falernum is what you’ve been missing.

Watermelon-Mint Mojitos 

(serves six)

 

1.5 cups rum

1.5 cups freshly-squeezed watermelon (or other fruit) juice

½ – ¾  cup freshly-squeezed lime juice

½ cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and boiling water, cooled)

Splash of Velvet Falernum (optional)

30 spearmint leaves

Club soda

 

In a one-quart mason jar, combine the mint leaves and the simple syrup. Gently crush the mint leaves with a muddler or wooden spoon.  Add the rum, then squeeze the limes directly into the jar, ideally using a hand-held  citrus squeezer that expresses not just the juice, but the oil from the rind as well.

Now add the fruit juice.  You can either puree it and put it through a strainer, or use a food mill.  A little pulp is fine.  Add a splash of Velvet Falernum if you’ve got it.

Screw the lid on the mason jar, shake well, and pour a little into a glass over crushed ice.  Add equal part club soda, taste it, and see if you like it.  Add more of any ingredient until you’ve got it right.

Oh, and about that tequila variation:  Swap the rum for tequila, cut the lime juice, sugar, and mint in half, and forget about the Velvet Falernum and club soda. Once again, adjust all quantities to taste.

Posted by on July 20, 2011 at 9:01 am, in the category Drink This, Garden Rant Cocktail Hour.
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8 Responses to “Mason Jar Cocktails”

  1. wow! this sounds amazing and i can’t wait to try it! and I’m going to try some of these new rums for mojitos, too!

  2. shira says:

    A resort that we’ve visited several times, does a similar drink, but it’s watermelon and jalapeno (which is conveniently ripening up in my garden right now). Definitely worth a try too.

    I love the idea of the mason jars… I’ve enjoyed your other books Amy, but I think I’m really looking forward to this one!

  3. Once I discovered dark rums, I never went back to buying white ones. I think I started out with Pusser’s or Mt. Gay from Trader Joe’s, but my husband got into sipping rums, thus the presence of 10Cane rum and the like in our home.

    When offered the choice between a mojito and a caprinha, the Brazillian usually wins. The mint I love above all others is Orange (sometimes Bergamot is added) Mint. Peppermint makes me vilely ill, but spearmint and I get along. I like it in my lemonade and in Morrocan tea, best of all.

  4. Kyle says:

    I agree with you all, this little cocktail idea sounds like a treat for sure. Kari, that watermelon and jalapeno cocktail sounds wild, dot he flavors blend nicely together? I know that sweetness can usually counterbalance spicy for a really nice mixture, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to work for me. It almost seems as though the jalapeno might be a bit too spicy for the watermelon, but of course I could very well be wrong. Regardless, thanks for this wonderful post! It’s something I’ll have to try very soon. Well, as soon as the fruits I need for them grow in :)

  5. I almost can’t drink a cocktail now without some form of heat…usually from jalapenos. In fact, I’m going to make a habanero simple syrup this weekend so I can easily adjust heat to taste, lol. The recipe looks great and I have a ton of watermelon just begging to be used in a cocktail!!!!!

  6. bons1@cox.net says:

    love mojitos made with vodka – orange vodka – yum! adding some fresh ginger to the mulling is a nice twist too!

  7. Debbie Fabre says:

    Very Nice….so interesting and pretty.

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