Drinking a mojito is pure Caribbean bliss. It’s the kind of cocktail you sit with and savor — but not as introspectively as with a glass of Scotch. Whisky is for pondering life’s problems. Mojitos are for forgetting them.
The mojito is an old drink with a storied past. Rumor has it that when Sir Francis Drake came to sack Havana in the 1500s, his crew ended up with scurvy. They acquired a medicinal recipe from the local Cubans, which was made with aguardiente de caña (a predecessor to rum), lime, mint, and sugar.
Regardless of whether this legend holds weight, a cocktail named El Draque was popular in Havana until it morphed into its modern form, the mojito.
It’s never too late to give an old drink a little facelift. There’s nothing quite like a classic mojito, but its simplicity lends itself well to variation. While I was in Cuba one of my favorite cocktails was a mojito variation with honey and basil we had at Callejon de Hamel.
My interpretation has a few twists: First, i made it with Plantation Pineapple rum instead of the traditional white rum. Second, I used some basil-infused honey syrup. It’s a great way to use up any basil overflow if you have a plant in your garden. The syrup could also pair nicely with fruit or vanilla ice cream.
Honey Basil Syrup
½ cup honey
½ cup water
15 large basil leaves
Heat honey and water in a saucepan until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and add basil leaves. Allow to steep for about 20 minutes before straining syrup for use.
Pineapple Basil Mojito
5 fresh basil leaves
2 oz Plantation Pineapple rum*
1 oz lime juice
3/4 oz basil honey syrup
2 oz soda water
Gently muddle the basil leaves in the bottom of a highball glass. Add the rum, lime juice and basil honey syrup. Stir and add some crushed ice. Stir again, and top with more crushed ice. Top with soda water.
*If you can’t find Plantation Pineapple, substitute white rum for a basil mojito.