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08.10.10 by  

Mojito Purists Beware: This Tweak May Make You Abandon the Original

We took the classic cocktail, added a touch of blueberry and a twist. We’d tell you it’s healthy, but it’s not.

During the summer months, we substitute half our daily water intake for mojitos. We figure most recipes have a 3 to 2 ratio of seltzer to rum so you’re way ahead of the hydration game. Three words: just plain smart. Maybe don’t tell your doctor, though.

This seemingly innocent berry mojito is muddled with jalapeño for a kick that never fails to surprise on the first sip.

Our version goes against our favorite 2-1-1 cocktail formula, but that’s only because we sip them on the sweeter side (and the fresh berries slip in some natural sugar).

[Insert Your Fave Berry] Mojito

  • 8 to 12 berries (we like blueberries and cherries)
  • 8 to 12 mint leaves, plus one for garnish
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup (or sub in homemade cane sugar syrup)
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 3 ounces seltzer (some suggest prosecco, champagne or Sprite — fight the urge!)
  • Ice
  1. Muddle berries, lime, mint and syrup in the bottom of a shaker — a wooden spoon works fine. Go easy on the leaves and peel, you’re trying to release the oils, not bruise, tear or punish them!
  2. Add rum, seltzer and ice, cover and shake. Pour contents into a highball.
  3. Spank the mint, then rim outside of glass with the leaf, squeeze vapors over top of drink and drop inside. The oils release a scent that heightens the sip experience. We also like a sugar-pepper infusion.

One twist: Use homemade mint syrup.

Like a jacked-up mint flavor? Add two cups hot water to one cup sugar and one cup mint leaves and let steep for a few hours. (You can also boil two cups water with one cup sugar and one cup of firmly pressed mint leaves until it boils down into syrup, about 20 minutes. The caution: since you’re not in control of how much the water evaporates, you can’t know how minty the syrup will be or replicate the same taste again.)

Another: Muddle brandied berries in lieu of “virgin” ones.

Try this if you’re in the “why have plain fruit when you can soak it liquor” camp like us (come to the dark side…). Our fave? Cherries. To make: Soak fresh cherries in brandy, making sure fruit is covered. Seal. Check on it daily and add more brandy if necessary. We store for several days but the berries can get a little juiced. One to two work fine, too. Store leftover brandied cherries in a jar in your freezer.

A third: Work in some stone fruits if in season.

Try if you’re part of the snobbish only-if-it’s-in-season crowd (hey, we lean that way, too). Our favorite version is peach, cranked up with a sugar-cayenne or brown sugar-vanilla rim.

Last one: Muddle classic or berry recipe with a slice of jalapeño.

This one’s not for the sensitive types. Take out the seeds, too, unless you’re a complete renegade.

To serve: We normally don’t think of Oneida when someone mentions mojito (read: we never think of Oneida), but this slender heavy-bottomed high ball is easy on the hands.