Last year, around this time, I suggested that you use the heaps of herbs you’d grown (or had thrust upon you by over-ambitious gardeners) to make pesto. This year the situation appears to have become more dire (or adult, depending on how you look at it) as I’m now advising you to use those herbs to facilitate your day-drinking habit (don’t worry if you don’t have one yet – there’s still time). So while you could use up your overgrown mint in more edible applications, consider the fact that summer is quickly trying to draw to a close and contemplate the lack of herby, citrusy drinks during all other seasons. I know, it’s an excellent point I make, you needn’t tell me. I’m very good at getting people to see the logic behind drinking.
Mojitos are frighteningly simple to prepare once you understand the proper definition of the word ‘muddle’. To muddle does not mean to destroy. To muddle does not mean to shred. To muddle means to draw out the delicious oils from an herb without ripping it up into bitter, chlorophyllic shreds that inevitably get stuck in your teeth and end up making a mockery out of you in front of that cute person you’re sipping mojitos with. Muddling is usually done with a muddler (I know, the people who get to name objects are painfully uncreative), but generally any wooden object with a thick blunted end will work, such as the end of a rolling pin or thick wooden spoon. When you muddle, you will usually do it with another ingredient in the base of the cocktail shaker and this will usually break down and release juice as the mint gets muddled (unless it’s already syrup). To muddle mint (or any herbs really – both of today’s mojitos would be lovely with basil), you want to press down on the leaves and gently twist until the mint is bruised (not annihilated) and the air starts smelling of lovely fresh minty-ness.
Both of today’s recipes will rely on the skill of muddling as it is really the only “difficult” (and by difficult I mean SO EASY) step in making mojitos. BA’s Best recipe is simple, clean, and classic. My own version is (surprise!) slightly fiddlier, but also delivers a wallop of lime – in the form of both lime syrup AND lime sparkling water – and cucumber to help freshen things up even further. You could also do what I did: make both, double fist all afternoon, and have a delightful if slightly underproductive day. Win-win.