Sunday, June 25, 2023
My mint plant has been resurrected.
Magic, science, or just mint being mint, I don’t care. The important thing is I have a pot full of mint that is quickly outgrowing its space and will soon require a bigger pot.
This is a wonderful thing for mojitos, which is a wonderful thing for me.
A few days ago Ralph ended our current mojito drought and asked me to make one. But it’s been so long that I forgot what our ratios are.
The problem with mojitos is that they rely heavily on fresh ingredients. If you’re going to make an Old Fashioned, say, all you need to know is that you have a bottle of good whiskey. But if you’re going to make a mojito, you need fresh mint and good limes.
Fresh mint is not usually a problem, as long as you have a pot of it on your balcony. But you do need to have the right kind, because did you even know there were so many kinds of mint? Peppermint, spearmint, a thing actually called mojito mint, pineapple mint, orange mint, chocolate mint. They all have different minty qualities but they all do not work as well in mojitos.
Limes, however, now that’s where things fall apart. A good lime is not that easy to come by. I can’t exactly pick them up at the Farmers Market, and supermarket limes are hit or miss.
The ones I used in our first batch of mojitos were pretty much flavorless. I mean what do you expect for 90 cents per golf ball sized lime? NINETY CENTS! Per lime! Each!
Not a lot of things would get me to spend that much on a lime, but a mojito is one of them.
Anyway, our drinks mostly tasted like sugar water in part because the limes were terrible and I could have juiced a dead twig and gotten more liquid out of it, and in part because I was being too conservative with the mint since I wanted to preserve my newly undead plant.
So Friday I went to the grocery store and bought more limes and more mint for backup. I even bought an extra bottle of seltzer, just in case.
I was prepared.
Saturday, Ralph made us mojitos. The first was a little light on the lime, the second nearly perfect. Both were mintily delicious. I asked him for his ratios but he wouldn’t tell me because that’s how mojitos work. You have your own secret recipe and take it to the grave with you. It’s also why you never believe a recipe on the internet, because nobody really knows how to make a mojito unless you’ve made a thousand.
We did run into one small problem, however. I was so focused on the lime and mint that I did not notice we were almost out of rum.
Two drinks yesterday kicked the bottle.
Running out of rum is a thing that only happens when we need it. We had a giant bottle of rum for eons because neither of us much drinks it, except now I had to interrupt the mojito drinking to buy more.
Just a few minutes ago I went out to get rum. This is a testament either to how much I wanted another mojito or how stupid I am.
I decided to go to a not-so-great liquor store up the street because as nice as the one down the street is, it’s like another full mile of driving, which is another mile of dealing with stupid people, and then I would have had to make a left to get out of the parking lot to go back home and there’s no way I’m doing that, least of all on a Sunday.
True fact: things I will and won’t do are often wholly based on whether I’ll have to make a left turn.
The nice thing about the not-so-great liquor store is that nobody goes there. The parking lot was empty. I picked up my bottle and went to the register.
But even that could not be without drama because the guy couldn’t find the bottle in the system to ring it up. It said there were none in inventory. But then he couldn’t enter it manually either because there was no SKU.
I swear I didn’t plant a bottle of rum on the shelf just so I could buy it.
So that required a phone call and a manager and an explanation and another ten minutes.
Rum secured, I was feeling hopeful about having a cold mojito in mere minutes. But then I thought I’d be REALLY stupid and stop at the market across the street and see if they had any mint. It’s a crapshoot as to what they will or won’t have on any given day. They basically have one refrigerator shelf with some random assortment of overpriced whatever, so if you’re really stumped for an avocado you can get one for five bucks.
I didn’t care what the mint cost, I really didn’t. I was only thinking that if I could find some, I would not have to use up my plant which is still growing. And in the end, I really wanted to be sure there was no chance of running out of anything. I had a full afternoon of science ahead of me, after all.
I pulled into the parking lot and tried to drive the length of it to find a spot. Except why should that be possible? Because why WOULDN’T there be someone at a dead stop in the middle of the parking lot, just sitting there? Nothing to determine if they were trying to park or dead. Couldn’t actually pull over to the RIGHT, you know, where you’re supposed to drive? So other people can get around you? No. Had to be dead center. And the guy behind him? Had to try to navigate around in the no space, so now there are two cars jammed there and nobody going anywhere, and a gaggle of people coming in and out of the store swarming around everyone.
I literally sat there. And sat there. And said a few unrepeatable words to myself. And contemplated the mojito that I was not drinking.
Eventually, at some point, someone got out of the passenger side of the car and had to hold up a conversation with the driver because getting out of the way would never have been sufficient. And eventually the car drove off, down the middle of the street. But not before someone else tried to pull out of a spot directly into the nose of my car because really, when there is already a murder scene, why not slaughter a few more lambs?
At which point I didn’t care if they were giving away a wheelbarrow full of mint for free, I left.
You can’t make a lot of mojitos with a limited amount of mint, but do you know how many you can make sitting in the car waiting for stupid people? Zero. Zero mojitos.
The good news is that Ralph was ready with the mixing glass when I got home. He tried his first mojito experiment. Instead of just lime, he put lime and orange. So subversive!
It was pretty delicious.
Not to be outdone, I made a strawberry mojito. Strawberry season is over (cue wailing and gnashing of teeth) but I was smart enough to make syrup, and strawberry plus mint is really a spectacular combination.
Neither of us wrote down our ratios.
The problem with mojitos is that they’re sort of a make-as-you-go drink. You put in a little lime and decide it’s not limey enough, so you put a little more. You muddle a bunch of mint but this year’s crop is less minty than usual so you muddle a little more.
After you’ve done this four or five times you’re not writing much of anything, let alone things that look like fractions.
The other problem with mojitos? They are so excellent for spending a Sunday afternoon experimenting that after a while you forget what time of the day it is until somebody says what’s for dinner? And then nobody knows and you can’t go out and pick something up anyway so you forget all about it and make another mojito.
Then no matter what you do they all start to taste very delicious, enough that maybe, just maybe, possibly, you’d be willing to drive out into the world again in a few days and get some more limes.
Photo: mint plant looking ready for a cocktail, and a worthy strawberry mojito.