Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Taste of Mint: Drinking by Produce

There are a lot of reasons to drink specific cocktails.  I've I've discussed, sometimes cocktails should match an occasion.  Other reasons  include wanting to try a new spirit, drinking whatever is local when on the road, and needing to please others with specific tastes.  This time of year, I'm reminded that, as with my dinner table, whatever produce is fresh can dictate my drink menu.  For instance, June might be the best time to drink something with strawberries.  July is the time for a Pimm's Cup with fresh cucumber.

Well, via the bounty of a friend's CSA (local food share) we have some fresh mint.  That combined with a beautiful mild Friday night and my wife's suggestion had me looking for new cocktails with mint.  As a general matter, there are three, somewhat related, types of mint cocktails.  One is the bourbon-based mint julep.  Two is a tiki drink/daiquiri and three is tequila-based drinks.

Primo Trace Smash

2 ounces of bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
1 dash of maraschino liqueur 
3 lemon wedges
1 ounce of simple syrup
5 mint leaves and a spring for garnish
1 raspberry or strawberry

Muddle mint and lemon and pour with other ingredients into an old fashioned glass with ice and garnish with berry and mint.

This was a pleasant but generally unmemorable drink.  It was really all about the bourbon with the maraschino and lemon adding a bit of nuance and balance around it.  Next time, I might tweak it a bit by using more lemon and less simple syrup.

Mexican Mojito

2 ounces of blanco tequila (Tres Generations)
1 ounce of agave nectre
1/2 a lime in wedges
1/2 a lemon in wedges
splash of club soda
10 mint leaves plus a sprig for garnish

Muddle lemon, lime, and mint, add tequila and agave, stir, and pour into a glass with ice.  Add club soda, stir gently, and garnish with a mint sprig.


As the name implies, this taste a good deal like a Mojito.  However, the agave and tequila gives it a nice twist.  My wife drank this one and thought it was "awesome" and it "got her over her aversion to tequila."  I thought it had a little more going on than the normal Mojito, as I consider decent blanco tequila a more complex spirit than white rum.  Overall, although not the most adventurous cocktail, this is an excellent drink, particularly for those who like their drinks on the light side.

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