Another cocktail? So soon? Well, I love having people over and I love to barbecue so July 4th could be called my own personal nirvana so there is no planning for a holiday barbecue without serving the perfect cocktail, right?!! Combining great foods and refreshing drinks with friends and family makes for a perfect day. Considering the heat wave we’ve been having in Colorado, I’m all for celebrating without turning on the oven and this Watermelon Mojito sure helped to beat the heat.
Can I just tell you how good this cocktail is? So light, so fresh, so full of summer with the flavors of watermelon, mint and lime. I love Mojitos (pronounced mo-HEE-toe), one of Cuba’s oldest cocktails. Legend has it that the name comes from the African word mojo, which means to place a little spell. Bacardi traces the drink’s roots to 1586, when Francis Drake and his pirates tried to sack Havana for its gold. While the invasion was unsuccessful, Drake’s associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque made with aguardiente (a crude forerunner of rum), sugar, lime and mint.
Supposedly consumed only for medicinal purposes (I need a new doctor!) the recipe was revised and gained in popularity as the original Bacardi Company was established in Cuba. I’ve written before about Bacardi and their history in Cuba; seems they are synonymous with more then just a Cuba Libre or a Bacardi Cocktail.
I’ve had some requests for ‘light’ cocktails and this time it’s been easy. Bacardi now offers a Mojito in their Classic Cocktails Light, a new line of low-calorie, ready-to-serve beverages made with natural flavors, real juice and pure cane sugar. As much as I love creating drinks, I also love the convenience of having something ready made available especially for my guests who are counting calories. Want a watermelon Mojito too? Just add a couple of spoonfuls of watermelon puree. Every glass gets the pretty garnish!
Here are some of my suggestions for a great holiday barbecue:
My children are grown so I’m not as inclined to make food with a red, white and blue theme as I am to make foods I love. I bring the colors of the day into play with white paper tablecloths and plates, blue napkins and well, that Watermelon Mojito is all the red I need; for me I always want the food to be the star!
Fresh Grilled Corn Salsa with Poblano Peppers and Honey – This is great with chips or in my case? A spoon. Love this stuff; so will your friends.
Grapefruit, Ginger and Honey Flank Steak – I didn’t have other citrus on hand one day so tried grapefruit and it was amazing.
Smoked Chicken Thighs – Easy and so good; for the 4th just do the thighs but come back in the fall and make this whole dish; we loved it! Don’t have a smoker: no worries, just season and cook on the grill. Boneless chicken thighs are now readily available and kids love them!
Cilantro Serrano Rice – This rice is simply fantastic. Don’t let the serrano peppers steer you clear; they add amazing flavor without overpowering heat. Seriously could sit and eat this entire bowl of rice all by myself.
French Potato Salad – As much as I love my old fashioned potato salad; I’m currently in love with the French version. All herbs and no mayo make a tasty dish and one that does not have to be kept cold. How perfect is that for a holiday barbecue?
Panzanella Salad – I think the best of the summer salads when tomatoes are fresh from the garden and can be the rightful star.
Green Beans and Mushrooms – I’m happy with grilled meats and salads but if you need a hot side dish; this is absolutely fabulous with fresh green beans.
Strawberry, Vanilla Yogurt and Limemade Popsicles – I did mention popsicles right? Mix and match your favorite flavors with some yogurt for a real treat.
Raspberry Boccone Dolce – The beauty of this dessert is belied by how easy it is; especially since it can be made a day ahead. It’s a huge crowd pleaser and really simple to make.
Strawberry Squares – Last but certainly not least; these are cool and crisp and can be made ahead and kept frozen til the 4th. Unless you eat them all.
I hope you all have a safe and fun filled holiday…Cheers!
A new take on what has become a classic; the watermelon is a great addition to the flavors of a mojito.
- 4 large sprigs of fresh mint (about 10 leaves per cocktail)
- 2 cups of watermelon puree (put chunks of watermelon in your food processor and process until smooth)
- 1/4 cup Simple Syrup (See notes)
- Ice cubes
- 1 cup Bacardi white rum
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- Sparkling water or club soda, chilled
- Set out 4 glasses
- Put about 10 leaves of mint into each glass and top with 1 Tbsp of simple syrup.
- Use a muddler (you can use the handle of a wooden spoon) to crush the mint and syrup; the more you muddle, the fuller the flavors.
- Pour 1/2 cup of the watermelon puree into each glass and then fill the glass with ice. Add 2 ounces of rum to each glass along with 1 Tbsp of lime juice.
- Use a long-handled spoon to mix everything together.
- Top off each glass with a little sparkling water or soda and garnish with a slice of watermelon, a slice of lime and a sprig of mint.
I make a lot of simple syrup for cocktails and most recipes call for far more than you actually need so I've found that the microwave is my friend. Simply boil water in the microwave and then add the sugar; return to boil for another minute and stir; continue to boil only if you do not see any sugar crystals.
Doing it this way I'll do a quarter cup each of sugar and water and quit wasting the larger batches I make that just get in the way in the fridge. Just remember to do it first and stick in the fridge or freezer to chill.
Join me every Friday for The Friday Cocktail when I’ll make a cocktail I love, recreate one from a local establishment or maybe just have some fun experimenting!