Del Mar Opening Day is here and while I’ve largely weaned myself off the day in/day out followings of California racing over the last year, this is one card I can’t help but get excited about. I have done little to no work on the races, but I’ll follow along with the Twinspires web feed, maybe back a tip or two , and will definitely be monitoring what my man Tom Quigley has to say on Twitter.
So since I don’t have any handicapping contributions to offer on this opening day, I thought I’d share a cocktail I created along with my friends Matt and Sara Hendrickson. It’s basically a cherry mojito. And I think it’s a nice way to enjoy one of the best fruits of the summer, especially while there are still cherries at your local farmer’s market.
You could use the brandied cherries I mentioned in last week’s cocktail post for this, but I think the natural sweetness and tartness of a super fresh cherry fit the bill a bit better for this recipe.
Outside of our place in Brooklyn, there are flowerpots. I decided as an experiment to plant a little mint in one of them. Predictably, the mint has thrived. Seriously, the stuff grows like a weed. Years ago I put a tiny mint plant in the side yard at my Saratoga rental on Regent Street for julep making purposes. I bet it’s now covering the fence like the Ivy and Wrigley Field.
Here’s the recipe for one cocktail:
2 ounces of white rum
3 cherries, pitted and stemmed
1 whole lime, quartered
3/4 ounce simple mint syrup (regular syrup fine too)
10 mint leaves
We made the drinks two different ways 1) traditional muddling 2) in a food processor. To my surprise, I liked #2 better. The mint got broken into many more pieces and had a little more pungency. And I appreciated using every bit of the cherries (if muddling, some pieces will end up discarded).
The first step is to make the syrup. I took 1/2 cup water (120 ml, 4 fl.oz. imperial) and 1/2 cup sugar (120 ml, 4 fl.oz. imperial) and about 12 chopped mint leaves and put them in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar was incorporated into the water. Add 3/4 ounce of the syrup into your cocktail shaker or food processor bowl.
Next, stem and pit three cherries (I used sweet ones; sour could work, too, but then you might want a bit more syrup). Put ‘em in your receptacle of choice.
If muddling, you can chop the limes into wedges and put them in a small bowl with big enough sides to prevent splashing. For the other version, cut up the lime and juice the pieces right into the food processor bowl.
At this stage, go nuts if your muddling, taking time to really try and break up the mint leaves and cherries and juice the limes. For the foopro version, pulse until the cherries and mint are broken down.
Here’s where the versions unite. Add the juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add the all important rum. Shake away and pour the contents into a rocks glass (or strain into a cocktail glass if you want the drink up). Add a little more ice if necessary. Top with a little (maybe an ounce) of club soda. Garnish with some combination of a lime wedge, cherry, and mint sprig.
Want more instructions? Drink a couple of those. Wait for the limo, bound for Jimmy Durante Blvd, to come pick you up. Once you’re in the back, crank up the tunes, bust open the bottle of Pol Roger ’90, let the ladies open the roof and dance, and you’re well on your way to a winning day.