What’s your ideal summer cocktail? For me, it’s gotta be super light and refreshing. Can’t be too boozy, or we all know I’ll fall off my chair. Can’t be too complicated or you’ll regret investing in all this product that takes up your entire liquor cabinet. For me, the perfect summer sipper is a mojito.
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Light and refreshing, the key to a perfect mojito is plenty of mint. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I love easy summer cocktails especially ones that use plenty of aromatic fresh herbs and fruit. So when I got reintroduced to a mojito at Ricardo’s Hideaway, I knew I had found my summer go-to.
Mojitos at Ricardo’s Hideaway
Ricardo’s is this sweet little cocktail club on the corner of 17 Ave and 5th Street in Calgary. I’d never been, but I sampled their jerk chicken at some random media event and I was immediately smitten. A couple days ago I went back, and instantly fell in love with its design scheme and atmosphere.
The space is small, but totally bijoux, rocking a tropical Trader Vic’s vibe. Think: Earnest Hemingway during his Cuba years. The walls are doused in hot turquoise, bar stools are electric blue and the bathrooms are, well, see for yourself.
How to Make the Perfect Mojito
Back, to the mojito, I adore it as a summer libation. It strikes that perfect balance between sweet (the sugar) tart (the lime) and herbaceous (all that mint). It’s like a cross between a daiquiri and mint julep.
Rumour has it, back in the 16th Century the mojito was known as “El Draque”, after Sir Francis Drake. He plundered Cuba for gold in 1586, and had (surprise, surprise) a bunch of sailors with scurvy on board. Some mates went ashore to find a remedy and came back with lime, mint and sugarcane juice. I’m guessing they had plenty of rum aboard already.
Other stories hark back to Cuban farmers who did what they could to make moonshine-esque rum into something drinkable. Limes, sugar and mint were, after all, readily available in most households.
Ricardo’s has a wall of mint, which I grabbed fistfuls from, but you only need about 8 sprigs. What’s brilliant about the mojito is you only need a few ingredients to make this medicinal cocktail.
- 2 oz Havana Club Rum (or any white rum)
- 3/4 oz Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
- 6-8 mint leaves
- Soda Water
Classic Mojito Recipe
Gently muddle the mint leaves with simple syrup and lime juice a collins glass. That’s a tall glass, by the way. You muddle to gently express the oils out of the mint, not pound the crap out of it.
Next, add the rum and load your glass halfway up with crushed ice. Stir, then add more ice. Top up with soda water. (Note: not tonic water.)
If you’re making mojitos on you own, you need a muddler. It works way better than any other kitchen implement to break down the mint leaves with the simple syrup and lime juice.
Pimp out your mojito
You can jazz up your mojito with the addition of strawberries. So many fruits pair well with rum, but it’s the mint you have to worry about. What goes well with mint? Citrus is a no brainer. Throw in some lemons, oranges or grapefruit to add subtle complexity to the flavours of lime.
Other flavours that go well with mint include chocolate (yes!), chilis and pineapple. Best to start with the classic recipe and then expand your horizons from there. That’s my rule of thumb, always do a recipe the first time according to the instructions. Once you’ve mastered it, you can branch out.
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Do you have a favourite summer cocktail? I’d love to know what it is.