If you’re here for the Mojito recipe, scroll down to the bottom as I wiffle on for a little bit…
I’ve always adored cocktails. I’m not a huge drinker – so don’t worry, I haven’t got a problem, but there’s something about a cocktail which makes life that little bit more colourful – a little more fizzy and fun.
On my 21st birthday party, in a dive of a pub in Northern Ireland, there was a special offer on Black Russians – buy one, get one free. When it was discovered it was my 21st birthday every single person in the pub – with typical Irish generosity – bought me two Black Russians.
It was a wild night, my last memory is looking down at a circular table with about twenty glasses on it. I didn’t drink vodka or kahlua again for about twenty years.
My 40th birthday was a slightly classier affair. I decided to have a ‘Film Noir’ theme and hired an underground venue and made everyone dress up in tuxedos and ’40’s glam’. There was a casino with a roulette wheel and everyone received a gambling chip with their invitation. When they arrived they were each given 20 chips to gamble with.
It was bloody brilliant, and the best bit was the tuxedoed waiters who went round with frozen jugs of Gimlets. I chose them as that’s what Raymond Chandler characters used to drink. (Reminds me of a lesson I gave on Film Noir when I said (brilliantly, I think) to the pupils, ‘the characters, like their drinks, are on the rocks.’)
Anyway Gimlets are fantastic. Half gin, half Rose’s Lime Cordial. Ice Ice Cold and served in a martini glasse.
Gorgeous – and doesn’t really taste that alcoholic. That is a problem as everyone at the party knocked them back and were completely plastered within about an hour. The good news is there is something magical in the cordial which stops you getting a hangover. I had a fantastic night but, again, couldn’t drink Gimlets for about five years afterwards.
Shortly after that, when the children were still quite young and causing all sorts of stress, Rob hit on the ingenious idea of working our way through the cocktail alphabet. He would knock up a different cocktail every night, inspired by a cocktail encyclopedia I had bought him for his birthday.
I am proud to say we managed to get through nineteen cocktails before our livers pleaded with us to stop. I took a photo of each one Rob made, which you can see below. Please excuse the glasses. Rob is very cross I am putting these pictures up as he said some of them are in the wrong glasses which completely spoils the look. I didn’t think it really mattered. I hope you will forgive the wrong glasses! If you hold your mouse over the picture you will see the name of the cocktail.
All of these are recognised cocktails except this one.
This little beauty is Rob’s invention. We couldn’t find a recipe for a cocktail beginning with ‘X’ so Rob created the X³. The recipe is an equal mix of cherry cordial – or cherry brandy if you have it, Malibu and creme de cacao. He garnished it with a maraschino cherry. It was gorgeous but only in tiny amounts: tasted like cherries dipped in chocolate and dusted with coconut.
How to Make the Perfect Mojito
One heady evening Rob and I escaped up London to meet with Best Mate Guy for a night out like the young people we used to be. Children were with grandparents, I was wearing ridiculously high heeled shoes. These ones.
God I love these shoes. I can’t walk in them, so it’s home-taxi-bar-taxi-home with these beauties.
We went to a mind-blowing restaurant in central London which was so trendy I felt 150 years’ old going in. It had an Argentinian theme and all the chairs had fake pony skin covers. Time for cocktails!
The reason I am telling you this story is because that was the night we had THE BEST MOJITOS IN THE WORLD. They were unbelievably good. Rob’s eyes were on stalks. He was determined to get the recipe but the snooty polo playing waiters refused to pass it on.
In the interests of science we ordered more and more rounds so Rob could work out the secret ingredient.
For the next year Rob would experiment with recreating those mojitos. His job is research, and he used all his skills and problem solving ability to create the perfect Mojito recipe. And now, I am passing it on to you.
You will need water, sugar, fresh mint, fresh limes and the most expensive rum you can afford.
First, and most importantly, it’s all about the sugar syrup. This is the secret ingredient. It needs to be made in advance.
The sugar syrup should be roughly 50/50 water and sugar. Then, get fresh mint leaves (including the stalk, which contains lots of flavour) and put them into the sugar syrup. Don’t do anything to the mint – just drop it in. Around two or three stalks of mint is all you need.
Leave to steep overnight – the longer the better – in the fridge.
Line up your Highball glasses for each of your guests. Keep them in the freezer so they are nice and frosted. You will need one lime per drink – get the freshest, juiciest limes you can find.
Squeeze juice of one lime. Add the same amount of pre-prepared sugar syrup (don’t forget to take the mint stalks out and throw them away)
It’s a good idea to have a little taste now as you have to make sure you have the balance right. If the limes are a bit old and sour you will need more sugar syrup. If they are nice and juicy you don’t need as much.
Once that is right add in five fresh mint leaves
Fill glass with crushed ice.
Pour in two measures (three if you like it strong) of white rum (spiced rum if you like it dirty). Use the best rum you can afford
Top up with soda water
Drop in a couple more mint leaves on top
Add a slice of lime on edge of the glass if you’re feeling fancy.
Stir with swizzle stick and drink with a straw.
If you want to make it very special, use champagne or Prosecco instead of soda water to make it a Mojito Royale.
Add angostura bitters (three splashes) to make it a Queens’ Park Swizzle – this drink will knock your socks off.
Let me know if you try any of these – also what drinks did you over indulge in when younger and now can’t drink any more?