Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Local Rum as Well as Some Farmers Market Key Limes and Mint

Some things like chocolate brownies  and Tom Hanks movies are always decent. Sure, occasionally they are amazing but even at their worst, they’re still pretty good. I thought that was the case with mojitos but lately, I’ve tasted some great ones and some disappointing ones.  They run the gamut from refreshing and pleasantly tart, to syrupy with essence of Aquafresh Extreme Clean. Probably better to shoot for the former. The limes and rum are of course the key players here and this is the first time I’ve spent a lot of time researching the best of both. The Sarasota farmers market has had local key limes the past few weeks. They are beautiful to look at and their tartness is somehow more interesting than that of regular limes. And the bottled stuff? Well, that’s not even in the same league as these guys.

Speaking of bottles, I started seeing bottles of rum from Drum Circle Distilling behind the bars at nicer restaurants. I picked up a bottle of the Siesta Key White rum for this recipe but I’m looking forward to tasting the gold one soon. It’s very clean tasting and was refreshing chilled on its own. It could only be made better with some fresh mint and key lime.

Last year, I posted a Cucumber Spritzer cocktail recipe in the middle of cucumber season. (It’s here if you have some cucumbers around.) Letting your farmers market findings guide your cocktail recipes is quite fun and the fresh mint that I’ve been seeing here lately has opened up lots of possibilities. And mint is one of those items that should sell itself at the market. Not only is it nice to look at, but the aroma of truly fresh mint coming from a farmer’s table is enough of a sales pitch and not one found very often at the supermarket.

The mixing is not difficult to do and of course the recipe can be adjusted to taste based on your guests’ preferences. I would advise though making a bit more than you think you need. Most people say they like mojitos but what they mean is that they love mojitos. That’s all well and good but make sure you pick up some extra key limes so you don’t disappoint anyone.

Key Lime Mojito (Makes 1)

Cut 4 Key Limes in half

Squeeze the juice from 2 of them into a cocktail shaker

Add the ‘squeezed’ halves as well as the remaining 2 limes

Muddle limes along with 3 mint sprigs and 2 teaspoons of simple syrup (more if you like it sweeter)

Add an ounce and a half of good quality light rum and pour over ice

Add a splash of soda water on top and garnish with an additional mint sprig

Get ready to make the next one.

Locavore Mixologist

The spirits I keep around the house are not generally from the East Coast. I’ve always thought the East Coast was a great place for seafood, hiking and small liberal arts colleges but vodka? Not so much. But with a little searching, I came across a delicious vodka made right in the heart of lobstah country, Maine. No, it’s not exactly in my back yard (though in the 18 years I lived in NH, it certainly was) but it didn’t travel anywhere near as far as the vodka I usually drink travels nor did it have a decades-long print ad campaign associated with it. The vodka is called Cold River and it’s based in Freeport, Maine. The distillery is a one building operation and makes a nice stop on the way to look at insulated socks at the LL Bean flagship store nearby.

What we do have here right now are cucumbers. Lots of cucumbers. They are crisp and clean tasting which is exactly the way I would describe Cold River’s excellent vodka. Just as the vodka is cleaner and more interesting than the well stuff that many of us had during college, local cucumbers are bursting with flavor that just can’t be matched by their supermarket counterparts. I add a little citrus and some local honey or sugar and I’m good to go. I will add ‘Cucumber Cooler’ to the long list of things that the East Coast is good for. Oh yeah, and those insulated socks. They really do work.

Cucumber Spritzer (makes 1)

Chop one small cucumber and add to a cocktail shaker

Add the juice of half a lime

Add EITHER a tablespoon of local honey, 1/2 oz. simple syrup, or a teaspoon of ultra-fine sugar

Pour in 1.5 oz of Cold River Vodka (or whatever is made nearby) along with a handful of ice cubes

Shake vigorously for 10 seconds or so and pour into a rocks glass

Garnish with a couple more slices of cucumber or a lime wedge