Cool­ing cock­tails for the sum­mer heat

RSWLiving - - Contents - BY GINA BIRCH

Cool­ing cock­tails for the sum­mer heat

When it comes to re­fresh­ing sum­mer cock­tails, if mar­gar­i­tas are the king, then mojitos are the queen of the pool­side bar. There are many sto­ries about the ori­gin of the wildly pop­u­lar Mex­i­can cock­tail, lov­ingly called mar­garita. Tales range from an elixir for a dancer who fre­quented a restau­rant out­side Ti­juana, to a Dal­las so­cialite who was va­ca­tion­ing in Aca­pulco.

Bars and res­tau­rants put a wide range of spins on the cit­rusy clas­sic that, al­though easy to make, is equally as easy to wreck with in­gre­di­ents that are sub­par and out of pro­por­tion.

The tra­di­tional recipe is made with tequila, Coin­treau (an orange-fla­vored liquor) and lime juice. Sim­ple enough, but the pro­por­tions can be a deal breaker. So can the cost of Coin­treau, which is ba­si­cally a top-shelf triple sec that is 80 proof. There are more af­ford­able brands of triple sec avail­able, and their al­co­hol con­tent is typ­i­cally lower.

The proper mea­sure­ments, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Bar­tenders As­so­ci­a­tion (IBA), are 1.18 ounces of tequila, .67 ounces of Coin­treau and ½ ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice. The IBA uses cen­tiliters for mea­sure­ments; I’ve roughly con­verted them into ounces since that’s what most am­a­teur mixol­o­gists use at home.

In a re­cent ex­per­i­ment with fel­low mar­garita lovers, we found the most agree­able pro­por­tions were two parts tequila to one part each of triple sec and lime juice. Salt on the rim is op­tional.

Us­ing the right tequila is an­other key to cock­tail suc­cess—100 per­cent agave or re­posado. In the same taste test, us­ing bot­tles of Pa­sote blanco and Pa­sote re­posado, the lay­ers of fla­vor that the lat­ter pro­vided were un­de­ni­able. On a side note, both of these were en­joy­able straight up and chilled.

Like the mar­garita, the mo­jito has many dif­fer­ent sto­ries about its ori­gins. Hail­ing from Cuba, made pop­u­lar by Ernest Hem­ing­way, La Bode­guita del Me­dio in Ha­vana claims to

be its birth­place. Tourists flock to this small bar to write on the wall and hang out where the fa­mous au­thor drank his beloved mojitos.

It seems every bar in Cuba—up­scale or a dive—serves the re­fresh­ing clas­sic. Bar­tenders in Cuba rou­tinely line their bars with glasses con­tain­ing mud­dled sugar and lime juice, wait­ing to be fin­ished off and served by the hun­dreds.

Res­tau­rants and bars get just as fancy with mojitos as they do with mar­gar­i­tas by us­ing fruits such as straw­berry, rasp­berry and the like. The clas­sic mo­jito, how­ever, con­sists of white rum, fresh lime juice, white sugar, mint and soda wa­ter.

Gently mud­dle 1 ounce of lime juice, 2 tea­spoons of white sugar and 6 mint sprigs in a glass. Add ic e, 1¼ ounce of white rum and top with soda wa­ter.

Can’t de­cide which way to go? The Pa­sote smash is a kind of mar­garita/mo­jito combo. Build in a shaker with 2 ounces of Pa­sote blanco, 4 fresh pineap­ple chunks, 4 mint sprigs, ¾ ounces of lime juice and ½ ounce of agave syrup. Mud­dle, add ice and shake vig­or­ously, then strain over ice in a Collins glass and gar­nish with fresh mint and pineap­ple.

For those who shy away from spir­its, some of the best sum­mer chillers are the ones that sparkle. Cin­zano Pros­ecco is fresh and fruity with sub­tle fla­vors of ap­ple and melon. It’s good for mix­ing in cock­tails such as a bellini or mi­mosa, or try the mint spritz: 1 part Cam­pari, 1 part cran­berry, 3 parts Pros­ecco, 5 fresh mint leaves.

If you like it sweet, Cin­zano Asti Moscato is like a glass full of honey, al­monds and peaches. Float some straw­ber­ries or other fresh fruits in this while you float in the pool.

En­joy ex­per­i­ment­ing with and con­sum­ing these re­fresh­ing sum­mer cock­tails.

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