Monday, June 22, 2009

Lemon Balm and Verbena Mojito

Lemon Balm and Verbena MojitoOn a hot, hot day in July (or any day, for that matter), what could be better than a refreshing Mojito on the deck or patio? Mojitos have become trendy in the past decade, now claiming to be one of the most popular cocktails. And we were enjoying testing these Mojito variations all weekend!

The word mojito comes from the word mojo, which means to blend, combine or assemble. The earliest Mojito recipes date back to Cuba in the early 1930s but the drink didn’t become popularized until the 1940s, at a Havana bar, La Bodeguita del Medio. This was a bar frequented by musicians, students, and future celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway, Bridget Bardot, and Nat King Cole, and it was here that the Mojito gained its solid reputation. Today this bar is a popular tourist destination in Havana and the Mojito is in demand around the world, wherever fine cocktails are served.

The most difficult ingredient to find may be the mint! I had to go to a couple of grocery stores to find some, and I plan on planting some in my garden so that I can have a mojito whenever the mood hits.

Some prefer to use soda water, or even Champagne, in place of mineral water. I found that mineral water keeps the taste cleaner unlike soda water or even champagne.

Also, some recipes call for simple syrup to be used in place of sugar (2 cups sugar to 1 cup of water, placed over high heat until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly for about five minutes). I like to use both sugar and simple syrup. The graininess of granulated sugar helps grind the mint leaves and the simple syrup adds sweetness to make a perfect Mojito.

For my own twist on the Mojito, I muddled lemon balm and lemon verbena leaves from plants I picked up at the Ottawa Farmers' Market last week. As well, instead of mineral water, I used Ginger Beer for a spicy kick.

Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena
Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena

Lemon Balm and Verbena Mojito

Serves 1

2-3 leaves of lemon balm
2-3 leaves of lemon verbena
2 ounces lime juice, freshly squeezed (usually the juice of 1-2 limes)
2 teaspoons fine granulated sugar (or more to taste)
Crushed ice
2 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces white rum (for example, Bacardi white rum) [I had to use gold rum since that's what we had on hand.]
4 ounces Ginger Beer
1 sprig of lemon balm or lemon verbena

Into a long, tall glass, place the lemon balm and lemon verbena leaves. Sprinkle the sugar on the leaves. Taking a muddler or a wooden spoon, grind the mint leaves into the sugar. The granulated sugar will act as an abrasive to release the juice in the leaves. Add the lime juice. Then add crushed ice to fill the glass to about three-quarters full. Add the rum. Add the ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish the drink with a sprig of lemon balm, lemon verbena and a slice of lime.

Classic Cuban Mojito

Serves 1

4-5 mint leaves (apple mint or spearmint, not peppermint)
2 ounces lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons fine granulated sugar (or more to taste)
Crushed ice
2 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces white rum (for example, Bacardi white rum)
2 ounces mineral water (for example, Perrier)
1 sprig of mint

Follow the same method as for the Lemon Balm and Verbena Mojito.

• Watermelon Mojito: Add 3 ounces seedless watermelon, pureed.
• Mango Mojito: Add 3 tablespoons pureed mango.
• Passion Fruit Mojito: Add 2-3 tablespoons pureed passion fruit.

Lemon Balm and Verbena MojitoTasting Notes
This is a drink to be sipped slowly. As the ice melts it becomes lighter and more mellow. Overall, it is a refreshing summer drink to enjoy with good friends and lively conversation. Plus it's a fun drink to experiment with herbs and flavors.

My Bucket List
  • Sip a Mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba

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    Kayte said...

    That drink looks perfect on a hot day. Beautiful photos. If you plant mint in the garden, be sure to give it it's own space as it takes over grows and grows and grows and I think it is impossible to kill it, or I would have been able to do so. I finally dug it all up, planted it in a bed around the pool where I have flowers and it does well there, doesn't take over the rest of my garden area and comes back year after year after year. I am going to make some of these drinks for the 4th of July holiday...and maybe I can find a cute way to serve them like you did!

    Cooking With Dia said...

    You have a beautiful food blog. I found it by chance through a friend of a friend of a friend. This Lemon drink will surely work for those hot summery days. I'm about to go try it.

    vibi said...

    AH! Yessss... you must know by now, when there's cocktails... I'm sure to show up! LOL LOL

    ANd yours was clearly calling my name! Super fresh and tangy! Mmmm perfect! I'm keeping it in stock for the summer's hottest days!

    Anonymous said...

    Oh, man. Your mojito looks and sounds amazing. Perfect for now, because the summer HEAT has finally arrived here.

    Engineer Baker said...

    While I'm a gin&tonic girl all the way, I *love* that bottle. It looks like an old Orangina bottle - is it?

    Coffee and Vanilla said...

    That sounds very refreshing! Beautiful images as well.

    If you haven't been awarded yet, let me ward you with Beautiful Blog award (replacement for IFP event):
    If you agree place link or badge linking to the B B List somewhere on your site or mention it in the post and I will place your link on the list.


    Aimée said...

    Sounds like my kind of weekend!
    The mojito is rapidly moving into first place for my favorite summer drink. I love your version, and that fist photo is making my mouth water.

    Lovely job.

    Unknown said...

    Great photos! Your mojito looks like the perfect summer beverage! Too bad summer still hasn't arrived on the east coast :) We've had rain and 50-60 degree temperatures for most of June.

    angela@spinachtiger said...

    The lemon verbena is a nice touch. I wish I could give you some of our mint.

    La Bella Cooks said...

    Perfection! I can picture myself enjoying one of these on a hot day. It sounds delicious and refreshing.

    Christie @ Fig & Cherry said...

    Absolutely gorgeous shots of the mint and lemon! So fresh and inviting :)

    Susan@LunaCafe said...

    Love your photos! The gardens are overflowing with mint and lemon verbena so can't wait to make this refreshing drink. You have inspired me so I may even infuse a bottle of rum with lemon verbena. Ahhh....

    grace said...

    "muddle" is such a fun word.
    moving on, what a stellar beverage! it's the epitome of what i'd want on a hot, humid, sticky day. excellent.

    pam said...

    Beautiful picture. I have tons of mint and tons of lemon balm. The mint has it's own designated bed. I have tried in vain to remove the lemon balm from my flower beds, but it's no use. Thanks for this idea!

    Eliana said...

    Mojitos are my favorite summertime drink. I even have them in the winter in NYC.

    Monica H said...

    This looks so refreshing and good!

    Justin said...

    this sounds like a perfect summer drink

    meg said...

    Congrats on the well deserved award!

    What lovely toffee treats!

    Di said...

    Yum. I definitely think we need some of these around here right now--the 100+ temps are killing me. Off to add mint to my shopping list... =)

    Teanna said...

    Wow! Now THAT is a summer drink if I ever saw one! That is gorgeous!

    Anonymous said...

    You are thinking like I am ...I recently posted a Citrus Sparkler recipe that I'm now realizing is very similar to a mojito. I just need to add the rum! Love the idea of ginger beer. I added ginger ale to mine.Your pictures are lovely!

    Bren said...

    awww. I'v had a mojito en La Bodeguita del Medio, in Havana. A special place, indeed. Tis my favorite drink, and yours looks just as refreshing as the best one I've had!

    Anonymous said...

    I need one of these like NOW. I don't think I have these herbs, but I do have mint and rum! LOL! AND lime! LOL! said...

    Perfect for the season...Very Refreshing!!!

    Rachael Hutchings said...

    You are amazing! Such a wonderful idea!