The past week has been very hot and humid here in Portland. Whenever this kind of weather rolls in, which is so normal for almost all other regions of the country, we Pacific Northwesterners act like it's the end of days. We are so used to crisp air and mild temperatures, that anything above 80 degrees gets people squirming. Most Portlanders don't have A/C because it's rarely necessary, so most restaurants and bars become packed to the brim around mid-day and into the evening with people wanting something cold to drink. I'm not sure the lack of A/C is the real reason you see everyone day drinking around here on any given day, but we'll still go with it. Since having kids, sometimes we like to relax by putting them to bed, mixing something up, and watching Netflix or front porch people-watching. And since it's felt like the tropics around here, I was in the mood for a tropically flavored and refreshing libation tonight! So without further ado, I call my concoction the Thai Basil Mojito.
I love the combination of lime, coconut, and basil! I love a good mojito too, so I decided to try a loosely-based version of one using fresh basil instead of mint. For the coconut part, I actually tried making a "sweetened condensed coconut milk," which, in theory sounded amazing, but when I mixed it with sparkling water, it ended up with that curdled milk consistency. Not too appetizing, so I tossed it and instead made coconut simple syrup! It ended up being perfect.
A wedge of lime
4 Tb sugar
4 Tb sweetened shredded coconut
2 oz rum
A dash of bitters (I used Scrappy's Lime Bitters)
2-3 fresh basil leaves
Candied lime peel for garnish (optional!)
First, make your coconut simple syrup by adding your sugar, coconut and about 3-4 Tb of water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and coconut is tender and fragrant. Let cool, and strain into a small container.
In a high-ball glass, put fresh basil leaves and 2 Tb of the coconut simple syrup in first. Muddle lightly, careful to extract the flavor of the basil but not bruise it too much. I usually just turn my muddler about 3 times into the bottom of the glass. Squeeze some fresh lime juice in there, then add a shot of rum and a dash of bitters to the mix. Fill the rest of your glass with ice and top the remaining space off with sparkling water. I used plain sparkling water, but I feel like Coconut La Croix would make it even better! I'm going to try it with that next time. Stir the drink using a swizzle stick or long spoon and garnish with a fresh basil leaf or candied lime peel if you're feeling fancy.* Enjoy!
*I just rolled some sliced lime peels in sugar for my garnish, but if you want to wow your guests, Martha Stewart has a great recipe for candied citrus peels that you can eat! Thanks, Martha.