When I picked up this book, my first reaction was, "How can there be 101 recipes for Mojitos? That's insane." But then I noticed the subtitle: "and other muddled drinks." Okay, that makes sense. Muddled drinks are very popular these days, and there's an endless variety of them.
Muddling is a technique of combining ingredients in a glass by pressing down on them with a muddler, a type of pestle that's usually shaped like a baseball bat. (I just have a plain wood one, but here's a fancy metal one.)
Watch a video of Robert Hess muddling mint for a Mojito (starts about 2:00).
Watch a video of Chris McMillian muddling limes for a Caipirinha (starts about 1:45).
Author Kim Hassarud is the founder of Liquid Architecture, a beverage consulting firm, and has created signature cocktails for several top venues and brands. So she knows what she's talking about. Her recipes are mostly straightforward, without a lot of odd ingredients or preparations. She does use wine in several of her cocktails, though -- a trend I haven't gotten behind.
She also uses a lot of fresh fruit in her drinks, which is exactly what you'd expect for muddled drinks. She also includes nuts, herbs, cucumbers, etc. for some potentially interesting flavor combinations. (I didn't try any of the more exotic ones, as I didn't have the ingredients on hand. But I'm filing them away for future reference.)
Here is a slightly modified version of her recipe for making a Mojito.
The Perfect Mojito
Adapted from a recipe by Kim Hassarud
2 oz Premium White Rum
10 Mint Leaves (approx.)
1 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup. (Don't muddle too hard!) Add the rum. Fill the glass most of the way with ice and stir well. Top with soda water. Garnish with a mint sprig.
This is more rum than many bartenders use to make a Mojito, so if you don't want it quite so strong you can cut back to 1 1/2 ounces. For the type of rum, she recommends 10 Cane, Bacardi Superior or Cruzan. I'm not a fan of Bacardi, but the other two are good. I'd also recommend Flor de Cana Extra Dry or Ron Matusalem Plantino. Pretty much any Cuban-style white rum will work for this.
Muddled drinks have become something of a bane to most bartenders -- they take a long time to make and tend to be messy. And don't even think about ordering a muddled drink at a place like TGI Fridays. You'll probably get nothing more than a blank stare in return. (And if they do try to make you a Mojito or Caipirinha, who knows what you'll get.)
The good news is, making muddled drinks at home isn't difficult. In fact, it's kind of fun. With a book like 101 Mojitos, a muddler*, and a little bit of liquor, you'll soon be off and muddling!
*Technically you don't even need a muddler: the end of a wooden spoon or the handle of a rolling pin will work in a pinch.