Taking a Break with a Cherry Mojito

Summer is vacation time for many, especially those in the restaurant industry. Restaurants are generally slower this time of year as people get out of town or spend more time entertaining at home. It’s a good time for restaurants to retool, re-staff, retrain and prepare for the busier fall when kids are back in school, the weather cools and people are more apt to go out than sit at home.

This is exactly what we’re doing at the restaurants I’m involved with, so it’s a very busy time for me. I’m currently working on menus for 4 restaurants and beginning to lay groundwork for one, possibly two more. Vacation isn’t in the plans for a while. At least not till the beginning of December when we are expecting our 3rd little girl, my dad was hoping for a boy, sorry dad, not this time either.

I like working; I’ve averaged 60 hour work weeks for as long as I can remember. It’s tougher now with kids and I’m hoping to get to a place where the work week normalizes a bit, if only to be able to spend more time with the family. Now with a 3rd, it would definitely a challenge on the Mrs.

Since there is no vacation time on the horizon, I steal moments and immerse myself in those things synonymous with the vacation experience. One such pleasure is a (fruitier than I normally drink) cocktail. I’m a tequila and beer man, always have been, I imagine I always will be. But over the last 6 months, the cocktail programs that I’ve been exposed to at my restaurants have given me a little taste of the exotic. The provide Interesting combinations and preparations like barrel-aging, marrying flavors and creating something with depth and originality. These are things that I, as a chef, truly treasure.

While barrel-aging cocktails is not something I would begin to do at home (although it could be done quite easily), I do like to play with what is in season and came up with this little gem after wondering what to do with all my cherries. I’ve always been a fan of cherry-limeade so I thought this cherry mojito would be a natural combination, I don’t think I have to tell you how right I was.

For the cherry juice, if you have a masticating juicer, that’s your best bet to extract as much flavor from the cherries as possible. If not, do what I did and go with the blender method. Pit the cherries, puree in a blender and strain through chinois or cheese cloth. If this is still too much effort, just go buy some juice, although you won’t get as much cherry flavor out of your cocktail.

Cherry Mojito

6 fresh mint leaves
1 Tbs. sugar
1 ½ oz. lime Juice
1 ½ oz. cherry juice/puree
1 ½ oz. white rum
4 oz. club soda
Ice
Mint and lime wedges for garnish

Method:

1. In a 12-14 oz. Collins glass, muddle the mint leaves and sugar.
2. Add the lime juice and cherry juice.
3. Fill the glass with ice.
4. Pour the rum over the ice.
5. Add the club soda.
6. Stir, garnish and serve.

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