Tuesday, June 01, 2010
If I were a good food blogger, I would have posted this cocktail recipe in advance of this past holiday weekend. Oops. But luckily there are many more barbecues ahead of us this summer. And besides, once you taste this, all will be forgiven.
Several years ago, I came across a recipe in a Jamie Oliver cookbook for pineapple topped with fresh mint that had been mashed up with sugar. Or, I should say, "recipe," as that's literally all that was involved -- just those three ingredients. But for some reason, it's amazing. The clean, almost piney edge of mint is softened by sugar, and sparks up the tangy perfume of pineapple. You wouldn't think you could improve upon a drippy-sweet pineapple, but it somehow does just that. And so, I naturally turned towards the next ingredient that improves all situations: alcohol.
Many people are familiar with mojitos, the Cuban highball that has become a favorite summer cocktail. Rum (the alcohol of choice from sugar-producing countries) is mixed with bashed-up mint and sugar, perked up with lime juice, and lightened with a bit of soda water. Adding pineapple brings a tropical sweetness to the herbal drink, and makes it my new favorite cocktail.
And speaking of things to toast, yours truly was recently profiled on Food52! For those unfamiliar with this lovely site, they've been holding recipe contests every week for the past year. Participants submit original creations inspired by weekly prompts, and site members vote for their favorites. The whole project will culminate in a cookbook of the winning recipes. Some stellar cooks have been participating, and their recipe archive has become one of my go-to sites when I'm looking for inspiration. Had I thought more about the possibility of a wider audience, perhaps I would have used something other than a teenage nickname as my username. Oops. But on the bright side, evidently my kale and quinoa pilaf is legendary. I'll drink to that.
Brown sugar does a lovely job of underscoring the caramel notes of pineapple, but you can substitute white sugar if needed. The exact proportions will vary, depending on how drippy-sweet your particular pineapple, and how you like your cocktails, so feel free to play around.
yields 2 cocktails
~1/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 handful mint leaves
2 shots rum
1 1/2 shots lime juice
Place the pineapple, brown sugar, and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker (or, as it's known in our house, mason jar). Mash together (you can use the handle of a wooden spoon if your muddler is in the shop) until the pineapple is reduced to bits and small chunks, and the mint is well-bruised and torn a bit. Add the rum and lime juice, and shake with ice to mix and chill. Taste, and adjust as desired. Pour into ice-filled glasses, and top off with soda water.