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It’s amazing what a couple of weeks of sun, showers, and non-freezing temperatures can do for mint. Suzen shrieks, “It’s a weed. We have to cut it back before it takes over the garden.” I reply, “How many drinks can we make?”

I really think I have perfected the mojito: the secret is freshness and sweetness. The standard mojito calls for lime juice but I prefer the sweetness of lemon juice. And for the mint, well, you can’t top the intense scent of fresh mint that five minutes ago was in the ground and now is being muddled. The aroma from a dozen leaves can fill the kitchen.

I’ve experimented making this drink with mint-flavored sugar syrup, but I think it’s better with standard sugar syrup and allowing the mint flavor to come from freshly selected leaves.

Most mojito recipes call for topping the drink off with club soda, and I’ve put that option here. With the club soda, the drink is sobered a tad. And I suppose classier to some palettes. But after a long week spent drinking only Pepsi, I look forward to Friday night and a stiff cocktail strong enough to move barbells. So, I leave the club soda out.

Go hunting in your yard for some mint, grab some rum, and enjoy.

Brian’s Lemon Mojito

Yield: 2 large drinks


12-15 mint leaves, freshly picked, rinsed clean and patted dry
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces plain sugar syrup
3 ounces fresh lemon juice, reserving one of the juiced lemon halves
6 ounces white rum
10 ice cubes
⅓ cup super fine sugar
1 cup shaved ice
2 ounces club soda [optional]


Place the mint leaves in a steel cocktail shaker, add the tablespoon of sugar, and muddle for 2 minutes.

Add the sugar syrup, lemon juice, and rum into the cocktail shaker along with enough ice cubes to fill the shaker. Shake until thoroughly chilled [that’s about 20 vigorous shakes]. Set the cocktail shaker aside.

On a plate, spread the super fine sugar into a circle on a dish; the circle should have the same diameter as your cocktail glasses. Take one of the juice lemon halves and run it around the rim of two cocktail glasses. Immediately dip the rims into the super fine sugar. Do not be delicate here; get a solid coating of sugar on both sides of the rim.

Add the shaved ice to each cocktail glass. Pour in the mojito from the cocktail shaker. Top, if you wish, with club soda. Drink fervently.

Source: Brian O’Rourke