The story of mojitos is as muddled as the spearmint, lime and sugar that go into this classic Cuban rum drink. Was it an antidote for scurvy given to Sir Francis Drake’s sailors by the West Indian natives back in the days of conquests and pirates?
Was it a tonic against the backbreaking labor of slaves in the cane fields? Was it the solution to soften the rough edges of that newly distilled West Indian liquor: rum?
Whatever the origins, this refreshing cocktail has island-hopped its way north steadily (helped by the fact that it was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite tipples), and here on Long Island it is acquiring a local flavor.
In its original form a mojito is a muddle of sugar, lime and mint, topped with light rum and sparkling soda water. In this Next-Great-Long Island-Summer-Cocktail version by Cameron Prather, the mojito is partnered with the cool sweetness of an iconic summer fruit—watermelon—as well as Long Island’s own Sag Harbor Rum and a bracing splash of LiV Orange Sorbetta Liqueur. Cameron suggests using whatever mint you have growing in your garden.
Recipe by Cameron Prather
10 sprigs fresh mint
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ of a medium watermelon
14 ounces Sag Harbor Rum
2 ounces LiV Orange Sorbetta Liqueur
Juice of 3 limes
Heat sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Add 5 mint sprigs, let steep and cool.
Cut the fruit of the watermelon into chunks, remove seeds and puree in a food processor.
Roll up and smash the remaining sprigs of mint. I like to use the side of a chef’s knife. Add them to a pitcher, along with the mint/sugar syrup, watermelon puree, Sag Harbor Rum, Orange Sorbetta Liqueur and lime juice.Stir well and pour into ice-filled highball glasses. Garnish with mint and fruit.
Yields 4 cocktails