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Aug 23, 2014
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Posts Tagged ‘Mojito’

Drink This Weekend Edition: Build-your-own mojito (a Boogaloo redux)

Friday, July 18th, 2014

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It’s mid-afternoon on a Friday, I’m sitting in one of the swings tethered around the bar at Boogaloo, and I’ve got major déjà vu. A sudden memory of a slim little title called Jungle Safari enters my head, one of those books in the Choose Your Own Adventure young adult series pioneered by Ed Packard. Boogaloo’s new mojito menu, unveiled earlier this month, demands a similar degree of reader participation, and there’s a nagging sense that we’ve seen something like this before…

Assuming you follow our Drink This Weekend Edition column religiously (c’mon, admit it), you’ll remember that Boogaloo rolled out the novel “build-your-own Manhattan” menu late last fall. This summer, they’ve shifted focus to the mojito.

“We like to keep to a very classic mojito style,” said bar manager Justin Mills as he mixed one up for me. If you’re yenning for the purist’s version of the drink, you can find it here, or you can branch out as wildly as you desire. The menu format is exceedingly minimalist (reminiscent, say, of Web 2.0 platforms), easy to navigate and forgiving of experimentation. Allow us to walk you through the steps:

Step 1: Pick your rum.
The most exigent decision here, naturally. Eleven rums are laid out in order of price and quality, starting with the well ($7), all the way to the venerable-sounding Plantation 20th Anniversary ($15). Possessing a middling acumen for rum at best, I went with the Plantation Grenada 2004 for $10.

Step 2: Pick your flavor.
This is where things get interesting. Choose from six flavor modifiers, all of which are combined with lime and thrown into the mix. (The default “Traditional” option is lime and lime.) Admittedly not a fan of cucumbers, I took a gamble on cucumber-lime for that refreshing botanical effect. Other options include ginger, orange, cherry and lemon.

Step 3: Pick your sugar.
Personal preference here: choose either granulated, raw cane or agave nectar as a sweetener, or a combination of all three, as Mills advised me.

Step 4: Pick your herb.
An aromatic garnish goes a long way, and the options are plentiful; the menu offers mint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, purple basil and pineapple sage. The purple basil, which Mills slipped into my finished glass, offered a lovely flash of deep violet for visual and gustatory appeal.

If my mojito safari were in choose-your-own-adventure format, I’ve ducked the crocodiles, tiger traps and headhunters and plumbed the inner sanctum of the mojito gods’ temple. Those notes of cucumber and basil are nasal, light and pleasingly brisk, even for someone who shies away from botanical flavors. Here’s a cocktail I could make short work of all summer.

True, not much can go wrong here – you’re combining sugar, lime, the burnt-molasses flavor of rum and fragrant herbs, all of which make delicious ingredients. Still, it’s fun to mix and match to your heart’s content, or, having quenched your mojito wanderlust, return again to the original recipe. And unlike those adventure books, no mistakes can be made, nor are fate or consequence any concern. Of the 990 possible mojito permutations available to you at the bar, you’re on track to select a winner. Give yourself a pat on the back, sip and enjoy.

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Asian elements bring cohesion to cocktails at Hiro

Friday, September 9th, 2011

090911_drinkthisweekendMany restaurants and bars have jumped aboard the craft cocktail bandwagon. And while I will be the first to applaud artisanal spirits, house-made infusions, bitters, mixers and fresh – even locally grown – produce, there are times when mixed-drink menus feel disjointed, be it a lack of harmony among cocktails with the food offerings or with the restaurant’s overall concept. Not so at Hiro, the newly opened sushi and izakaya (Japanese tapas) restaurant located at 609 Eastgate Ave., in The Loop, where bar manager Sui Toh does a nice job of unifying the cocktail list through a knowledgeable selection of Asian components.

Think Japanese alcoholic beverages and the first one that comes to mind is saké. At Hiro, patrons have a choice of four different sakés, but the rice wine also makes an appearance in five cocktails. They run from basic, like the 50/50 (equal parts plum wine and saké), to more complex, like the Ginger Phoenix (a mix of saké, Moscato, muddled ginger and simple syrup garnished with a tasty, don’t-waste-it piece of house-made candied ginger).

The use of fruit waters is another notable aspect of the drinks prepared at Hiro. The coconut Mojito calls for coconut water, which keeps the drink light and refreshing, as well as lime juice and a generous amount of fresh mint, which keep it from wandering too far from its inspiration. The Lychee Blossom employs a combination of coconut water and lychee water that’s garnished with skewered lychee fruit, giving imbibers unfamiliar with its gummy ways an up-close-and-personal experience with the tropical Asian fruit.

Toh and owner Bernie Lee clearly understand their customer base (folks with a penchant for commercially made flavored vodkas won’t be disappointed), but they also seem to recognize that, as an Asian eatery, Hiro is in a position to enhance its drinks with Pac Rim elements – and they’re not afraid to do so.

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