Alright, guys—the warm weather is here, and Mr. Sun might have already found you, depending on your location (here in Richmond, VA, our weather does whatever the hell it feels like, including, apparently, completely skipping spring and jumping straight to summer). Put away the hot toddies, mulled wines, and gingerbread stouts of those frozen yesterdays and break out a light, refreshing drink that goes hand in hand with warmer memories: the mojito. A delicious iced cocktail with the cool flavors of mint, lime, and rum, the mojito comes together to make you feel like you’re drunkenly basking in the Havana sunset.
Let’s get started! I’m going to take it nice and slow, so don’t freak out and abandon the cause. We’ll begin our adventure by identifying our ingredients:
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups (or handfuls) of mint leaves
- 1½ to 2 ounces of light (preferably white) rum
- ½ a lime
- 1 can of club soda
- About a half cup of crushed ice
The first thing we’re going to do is make a simple syrup. As the name indicates, it is incredibly simple to make. Simple syrup is basically sugar water, and it’s ideal for mixing into cold drinks instead of just solid sugar. You can make mojitos with regular sugar, but it’s going to take a long time to dissolve sugar into your drink effectively by hand (and we don’t want our readers to get carpal tunnel. See how much we love you?). Here we go:
- Pour your cup of sugar and cup of water into a pot (or pan) and heat until it boils.
- Stir sugar into water until it dissolves completely, and turn off the heat.
- OPTIONAL—If you want to give your mojito a really minty kick, add half of your mint leaves to the syrup and allow them to steep for 30 minutes to an hour.
Once you’ve made your syrup, you’re ready to combine your other ingredients together:
- Pour an ounce of your freshly made syrup into a tall glass.
- Add a good handful of mint leaves and muddle (i.e. mush it around a bit with the blunt end of something) them into the syrup (there is such a thing as a muddler, but I don’t own one because I’m not fancy enough. Just use the end of a wooden spoon, the handle of a knife, whatever you have at your disposal.)
- Add your crushed ice. Muddle it around a bit more.
- Now add your rum (a little or a lot, it’s totally up to you and how stressful your day was), the juice from your half lime, and a healthy splash of your club soda, and give it good, healthy stir. NOTE—do not strain this drink. The mint leaves are supposed to stay in there for flavor and, well, because it looks pretty.
- Garnish (i.e. make it look pretty) with a sprig of mint and a wedge of lime.
Voila! You’re done! Give yourself a pat on the back (NOT WITH YOUR HAND THAT HAS THE DRINK IN IT! Whew. Close one.). Now all that’s left is to relax on your front porch, throw on some Beirut for background music and revel in your accomplishment of creating a delicious, bright, citrusy-sweet summer cocktail. Happy drinking!
Art by Esme