Category Archives: Beverage

Key West Style Mojito, a Classic Cocktail

Recipe for a new favorite cocktail.

I am in love, again. For a really long time, something like thirty-plus years, I have been faithful to just one but on vacation, I strayed and found myself immersed in a totally new relationship. As many of you may know, I am a bourbon man and even in the hottest months of summer have I not ever been tempted to sway or even be teased with a lust of another, booze that is. But I could not help myself. I got all caught up in the moment; hot and tired from a long day of doing absolutely nothing, I found myself saying the words, “I’ll have a mojito, the original version please.”

As for a perfect rum to use in this recipe, I think the best match for this Cuban drink would be a Cuban rum like Havana Club, but it’s not available in the US. My picks off the shelf are Myers Platinum, Flor de Cana, 10 Cane and Cruzan Light; all are about the most decent for mojitos. As told, always use a light rum, never dark. Now, the recipe is based on the way I observed the bartender making it and I asked of the simple syrup he used to sweeten and offset the acidic bitterness of the limes which makes a mojito such a classic. He explained the syrup was an infused sugar water using the mint leaves. The infused water along with the bruised leaves makes what I think is the best mojito out there. And this is coming from the locale where mojito is the king of cocktails – in Hemmingway’s back yard of Key West. Enjoy!

My Mojito Recipe, Key West Style
for each cocktail

2 ounces light rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounces mint infused sugar water
Top with a splash, really just a splash, of club soda and a lime twist

Use a highball glass. Add 3 or 4 mint leaves, a good pinch of sugar (this helps to brighten the mint flavor and release the mint oil as you muddle) and muddle with a, well, muddler. If you don’t have one, use the dowel end of your largest diameter wooden spoon or even a teaspoon will do, but you will have to work a little harder. The idea is to bruise the leaves not macerate them into tiny pieces that will later get caught in your or guests teeth.

Add cubes of ice, never crushed, half way up the glass along with the rum, lime juice and the infused sugar water. Now, gently stir your mojito a little and enjoy a most perfect, classic cocktail.

Notes: The key to a great infused water is to allow the liquid to cool down naturally, that is, to room temperature before removing leaves and refrigerating. Always use fresh limes, preferably the smaller Floridian Key or Mexican limes; use Persian as the last resort but never use bottled lime juice. On average, each cocktail will use about 1 1/2 lime including the twist.

Mint Infused Sugar Water
makes 1 cup ~ I like to double it

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
16 mint leaves, washed

Heat water in a small saucepan over medium high heat to a boil. Add sugar and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add mint leaves. Allow to steep until water comes to room temperature. Remove leaves, refrigerate to cool or until needed.

Southern Coffee Punch

Sing a round with me…

Most gatherings at holiday times are lifted with songs in a spirited way; growing up at our house was no exception.

There is a commercial currently airing on TV that is precious yet the song itself reminds me of our many late night attempts of caroling around town.

The lyrics (after a bowl of punch) goes something like this:

Fleas naughty dog,
There’s fleas on your dad,
Fleas naughty dog,
Protect us and the fleas from my dad.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
From the bottom of my heart.

Police car ahead,
Police got my dad,
Police car ahead,
Prospero año y Felicidad.

This punch is similar to many and as the recipe varies in ingredients, so does the name. My favorite around Christmas is Santa’s Helper as I’m sure if you leave a mug of this out on the eve, the big guy will not only get a jolt of goodness but just maybe you’ll get something extra under the tree.

Enjoy!

Southern Coffee Punch

8 cups strong, warm coffee
1 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
one-fifth Jim Beam Bourbon or your favorite
Whipping cream if desired

Allow ice cream to soften a bit and mix with the warm coffee. Stir in the bourbon and fold in desired whipped cream. Place in a punch bowl.

Alternative: Ladle punch into cups, add a dollop of whipped cream, a candy cane if desired and serve.

Southern Coffee Punch

Sing a round with me…

Most gatherings at holiday times are lifted with songs in a spirited way; growing up at our house was no exception.

There is a commercial currently airing on TV that is precious yet the song itself reminds me of our many late night attempts of caroling around town.

The lyrics (after a bowl of punch) goes something like this:

Fleas naughty dog,
There’s fleas on your dad,
Fleas naughty dog,
Protect us and the fleas from my dad.

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
From the bottom of my heart.

Police car ahead,
Police got my dad,
Police car ahead,
Prospero año y Felicidad.

This punch is similar to many and as the recipe varies in ingredients, so does the name. My favorite around Christmas is Santa’s Helper as I’m sure if you leave a mug of this out on the eve, the big guy will not only get a jolt of goodness but just maybe you’ll get something extra under the tree.

Enjoy!

Southern Coffee Punch

8 cups strong, warm coffee
1 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
one-fifth Jim Beam Bourbon or your favorite
Whipping cream if desired

Allow ice cream to soften a bit and mix with the warm coffee. Stir in the bourbon and fold in desired whipped cream. Place in a punch bowl.

Alternative: Ladle punch into cups, add a dollop of whipped cream, a candy cane if desired and serve.

My Christmas Cheer

Here’s a Christmas toast to all of ya’ll…
Lift your glass to the future,
Heave it from the past,
Toast to me, to friends far and near.
That from this day forward,
May we remain faithful and dear.

Now here’s a little recipe to start the morning with a jingle in your step.

Christmas Cheer

1 bottle of chilled champagne
1 can frozen cranberry juice
Lime slices

Stir the undiluted juice with the chilled champagne. Garnish flute with the lime slice and drink up. You just might need another bottle.

My Christmas Cheer

Here’s a Christmas toast to all of ya’ll…
Lift your glass to the future,
Heave it from the past,
Toast to me, to friends far and near.
That from this day forward,
May we remain faithful and dear.

Now here’s a little recipe to start the morning with a jingle in your step.

Christmas Cheer

1 bottle of chilled champagne
1 can frozen cranberry juice
Lime slices

Stir the undiluted juice with the chilled champagne. Garnish flute with the lime slice and drink up. You just might need another bottle.

Southern Apple Whiskey Punch

 My kind of noggin’…

Forget the eggnog, even if it is nicely spiked. With the weather as it is, I think I’ll take a nice cup, or three of something a lot warmer, something that will toast my toes as well.

Great for parties, wassail has been around forever and I know there are so many good recipes. This version is the one for me though, based on an old southern one of an apple whiskey punch served along the waterways and rivers in the ‘big’ houses to guest from far away. Ladies were not allowed this, it was only for the gentlemen. Some gentlemen, huh?

A wonderful blend of apple cider, (you know, the cloudy kind from squeezed apples and not apple juice) fresh juices from just-picked local oranges and pineapples from afar brought into the area by local seamen along with spices from the far east. The whiskey of course was regional too. Make up a batch and watch your guests ‘warm-up’ to you quickly. Enjoy!

Southern Apple Whiskey Punch
about 18 servings

2 quarts apple cider (fresh if available)
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 quarts pineapple juice (or a 46 oz can)
1 -1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced
3 -6 inch cinnamon sticks cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup local honey
1 apple, thinly sliced crosswise
1 orange, thinly sliced crosswise
1 whole orange
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 to 3 cups quality southern whiskey

Place the cider, orange and pineapple juice in a large kettle or pot. Add the ginger, cinnamon and stir in the honey. Add the apple and orange slices. Stud the whole orange with the cloves and place in the kettle.

Bring to a low simmer, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. You can keep this warm on the stove-top for about 2 hours or transfer to a slow cooker set on warm if desired until ready to serve.
Right before transferring to a punch bowl, stir in the whiskey. Serve with a wide ladle, the slices of fruit are delicious.

Southern Apple Whiskey Punch

 My kind of noggin’…

Forget the eggnog, even if it is nicely spiked. With the weather as it is, I think I’ll take a nice cup, or three of something a lot warmer, something that will toast my toes as well.

Great for parties, wassail has been around forever and I know there are so many good recipes. This version is the one for me though, based on an old southern one of an apple whiskey punch served along the waterways and rivers in the ‘big’ houses to guest from far away. Ladies were not allowed this, it was only for the gentlemen. Some gentlemen, huh?

A wonderful blend of apple cider, (you know, the cloudy kind from squeezed apples and not apple juice) fresh juices from just-picked local oranges and pineapples from afar brought into the area by local seamen along with spices from the far east. The whiskey of course was regional too. Make up a batch and watch your guests ‘warm-up’ to you quickly. Enjoy!

Southern Apple Whiskey Punch
about 18 servings

2 quarts apple cider (fresh if available)
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 quarts pineapple juice (or a 46 oz can)
1 -1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced
3 -6 inch cinnamon sticks cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup local honey
1 apple, thinly sliced crosswise
1 orange, thinly sliced crosswise
1 whole orange
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 to 3 cups quality southern whiskey

Place the cider, orange and pineapple juice in a large kettle or pot. Add the ginger, cinnamon and stir in the honey. Add the apple and orange slices. Stud the whole orange with the cloves and place in the kettle.

Bring to a low simmer, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. You can keep this warm on the stove-top for about 2 hours or transfer to a slow cooker set on warm if desired until ready to serve.
Right before transferring to a punch bowl, stir in the whiskey. Serve with a wide ladle, the slices of fruit are delicious.

Fish House Punch

It’s Friday and it’s a day to talk about fish.
From the gentlemen anglers of Schuylkill Fishing Company in Pennsylvania comes this delightful yet mouth awakening punch. Believed being served as early as 1732, this tradition continues today as members gather to wash down their catch or sometimes barbecue with this spirited lemon punch.
Fish House Punch

Great for large parties

  • 1 1/2 pounds sugar
  • 2 quarts lemon juice -strained
  • 4 to 6 limes -sliced
  • 4 quarts Jamaican rum
  • 2 quarts cognac
  • 1 cup peach brandy
Make simple syrup over low heat using the least amount of water needed to dissolve the sugar, add lemon juice, let cool and chill.
In a large tub of choice, pour sugar mixture over a large block of ice. Add limes. Pour over the ice, in order, the rum, cognac and brandy. Let set for several hours to mellow, stirring before quests arrive.
Reduce recipe for smaller gatherings

Between the Sheets & Pere Ripiene

Between Sheets & Pears

Unfortunately, there is no correlation in the title except that I am keeping with my promise in posting about ‘stuffing’ recipes. I am also making good on another promise featuring cocktails and appetizers on Tuesdays, at least occasionally. And, something else I’m been meaning to do is to post a tribute to friends every so often. Today’s recipes go out to my dear and wonderful Floridian friend, Claudia at What’s Cookin’ Italian Style. I think she will like both of these recipes.

The cocktail today features three types of liquor and a little lemon, nothing more and nothing really fancy. It is nothing more than an improvisation on the better-known Sidecar. The silky addition of rum, for Claudia’s sake, is what makes the difference.

Claudia, from an Italian family, will appreciate the appetizer or dessert, as I believe it is eaten in Italy. According to an old Italian proverb, “Never let the peasants know how well cheese and pears go together.” Blue cheese or Roquefort makes a memorable combination if Gorgonzola cannot be found. Seckel pears, because of their size and butter flesh, are the ideal pears but are only in season in fall through December. Any small ripe pear will be satisfactory. Hope you enjoy this folks and you too Claudia!

Between the Sheets
for each cocktail
 

1/2 jigger brandy
1/2 jigger light rum
1/2 jigger Cointreau or triple sec
1/3 jigger lemon juice

    Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

    Pere Ripiene
    Cheese Stuffed Pears
     

    12 small pears, Seckel when in season
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter, or try it with cream cheese
    1 cup Gorgonzola cheese, Blue or Roquefort will do
    1 cup finely crushed walnuts

      Peel the pears and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and core out the center. Sprinkle pears with lemon juice coating all surfaces.

      Beat butter, cheese together until creamy, and spoon into the pear half by teaspoons. Place halves together forming a whole pear. Use more mixture if needed to adhere pears together.

      Dip pear in crushed walnuts and set on a platter.

      Cover with wrap and chill until serving time.