Here’s a distinctive variation of the mojito cocktail.
To begin, I am the dream customer for product packagers. I see something on the shelf and I’m very likely to grab it without fully understanding what that product really is. But the packaging is so seductive that I succumb.
It can be embarrassing. In a liqueur store, I saw a bottle of something called Tuaca, with a complicated brownish something label, and the name sounded South American to me. This had to be a cousin of Kahlua and I’m always up for a cocktail experiment.
Only when I got home did I read the label. Italian liqueur. A very good liqueur. Mythology has the recipe for this golden substance dating back to the Renaissance. The liqueur is bottled in Livorno Italy by families who, of course, guard their recipe. The base is brandy, augmented with orange and vanilla flavors, plus certainly some herbs and spices. The dominant flavor is said by many to be vanilla but I find it richer than that. Straight up, without ice, you sense a Scotch or Drambuie flavor. Over ice, or over ice cream, it is refreshingly potent.
To increase their sales, the website at www.tuaca.com has added a number of cocktail recipes. Their version of the mojito, dubbed a Tuacito, is presented below. It’s very interesting for multiple reasons. First, I appreciate the honesty of the Tuaca firm. Rather than base the drink strictly on their liqueur, they keep the rum base for the mojito and use Tuaca just to modify the flavor. And the modification is significant. The high mint flavor of the mojito is muted in this drink, not dulled, just pushed into the background. The vanilla and herb overtones of the Tuaca combine with that mint to create a more complex, yet smooth cocktail.
This is a delicious drink and I invite you to give it a try. I’ll be testing other cocktails from the Tuaca website and giving you updates. Here I’ve modified the proportions a bit from the original. Their recipe calls for proportions by “part” which I take to mean “1 ounce.” I consider the club soda to be optional, to be added only if you desire to slightly mute the strength of the cocktail.
Yield: 1 cocktail
1 part Tuaca liqueur
6-8 mint leaves
1part fresh=squeezed lemon juice
1 part simple sugar syrup
2 parts light rum
1 part club soda [optional]
Add the mint, lemon and sugar syrup to a shaker and lightly muddle. Add ice and all the remaining ingredients except for the soda. Shake and strain into a highball glass with fresh ice. Top with club soda if you desire. Garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon wheel
Source: Adopted from www.tuaca.com
I am not a subtle person. I describe myself as incisive. Other people might use other adjectives. I can be intense and I cook and make drinks that way. A teaspoon of cinnamon? Oh, no, two is better. I can draw a very evil stare from Suzen when I’ve overdone it.
Still, she likes my drink concoctions. She knows that first sip will be strong. Which is why I just surprised her. I made a mojito and I followed the classical recipe: I put in club soda.
Jessica Strand has written a lovely drink book, Margaritas, Mojitos and More. Her Classic Mojito recipe, given below, has that club soda that I’ve always heard goes into a real mojito. I always left the club soda out, opting for an intense hit of just mint, rum, and sugar syrup. What interested me about Jessica’s recipe was the relative balance of ingredients: not too much mint, nor too much rum, and just a little sugar instead of my usual heavy splash of sugar syrup.
So, I experimented and followed her recipe exactly. Not one extra teaspoon of sugar. The result? Very interesting. It tastes like a mojito, but it is subtle. There is no overpowering “wham” in your mouth. That distinctive mojito flavor is there, but it just resonates instead of blaring away.
The book has a bevy of mojito-like recipes. I tried the mango, which was good, and the kiwi, which was like a smoothie with rum. For that one, I did add some extra sugar but then again my kiwis were a tad less than ripe. As with many fruit cocktails, you do need to adjust sugar AND tartness based on your fruit. If you do add sugar, then some additional lemon or lime juice provides the right counterpoint and maintains the liquidity. You really don’t want a thick cocktail that you have to chew.
Try this mojito with a soft, low intensity cheese and you have beginnings for perfect party.
½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
5 mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
2 ounces white rum
1 ounce club soda
Put the lime juice and sugar in a highball or other glass. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the mint leaves and crush or muddle them against the glass with the back of a spoon or muddler. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add the rum and club soda, and stir gently. Garnish with a mint sprig.