Photo by Jamie Maldonado
Some escape the heat waves of summer for higher altitudes and cooler temps. I, on the other hand, must be part lizard, because I enjoy the heat a bit too much. There’s just something about the warmth and the fresh fruits of summer that make me wish it would stay forever. One of my favorite summer-y citrus fruits is lime.
For summer parties and gatherings in our hot and humid region, finding the right balance of something that’s not overly sweet, that will also appeal to the whole crowd can be a bit tricky. If you’re looking for something that is light and slightly fruity, Mojito’s are the answer. Whether you make them traditional style, with alcohol, or without – the flavor is phenomenal. What could be more fun and festive than setting up a Mojito bar for your next gathering or even at your wedding reception?
Let’s start with the basics of Mojito-making. Mojito’s have only a few basic ingredients – making them all the better. Start with the traditional mint and lime version or build on that to make any custom flavor you’d like. Strawberry, Mango, Watermelon, Raspberry, Blackberry, well, you get the idea. What better time to take advantage of all of those fresh ripe fruits of summer.
Now, there is a little bit of rhyme and reason to preparing a Mojito (quite similar to a Spritzer or Limeade, by the way). Rule number one is to place the sugar, lime and mint in the bottom of the glass and “muddle” it. Muddling helps dissolve the sugar, juices the lime and releases some oil from the mint. Some recipes out there suggest using simple syrup instead of granulated sugar for your Mojito, either is perfectly fine. Rule number two is, too much muddling and you have fruit pulp in your straw and/or the mint has turned into what feels like lawn clippings in your mouth- not so delicious! Remember, to ‘muddle,’ you just want to bruise the fruit and mint a bit, not destroy. You can certainly strain out the mint and/or fruit after you muddle, but generally people don’t. This full fruit, rustic style is preferred by most Mojito lovers. Don’t be intimidated by the steps, it really is fool-proof.
Ingredients for 1 Classic Mojito:
- 1 12 oz. glass
- Club Soda
- White Rum, generally 1.5–3 oz.
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar (or 1–2 oz. simple syrup, recipe below)
- 5–6 mint leaves
- ½ of a lime (more to garnish, optional)
- Ice (crushed is great but any will work)
- Straw, optional
How to Make a Simple Syrup (Optional)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
Combine sugar and water by bringing to a boil in a small saucepan or by using lukewarm water and shaking together in a sealed container/jar until the sugar is completely dissolved. This can be made up ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to 6 months.
To Prepare a Classic Mojito:
Put the lime, mint, and sugar in a glass and muddle, using an actual muddler OR the end of a wooden spoon. If you are adding any other fruits for a flavored Mojito, add these in at this time as well. Fill cup 3/4 full with ice, add the rum and top off with Club Soda (Sprite or 7UP works too). Garnish with mint leaves and a lime wedge.
To Prepare a Strawberry, Mango, Watermelon or Blackberry Mojito:
Use the classic Mojito recipe, but add in your favorite fruit, along with the lime, in the muddling process and continue the steps from above – add another slice of fruit for garnishing if desired. Remember, to ‘muddle,’ you just want to bruise the fruit and mint a bit, not destroy. When using a more delicate fruit, you might add these in after muddling for a prettier drink.
To Prepare a Virgin Mojito:
Use the same ingredients/steps as a traditional Mojito, without the rum and add an extra squeeze of lime. Garnish with mint leaves and a lime wedge. (For another treat, omit the mint, add a few maraschino cherries and you will have a cherry limeade!)
Enjoy the lazy days of summer, indoors or out, and please drink responsibly.