Bajito

I should love mojitos. Rum, sugar, mint, what’s not to love? I grew up with lechon, platano maduro, y moros y cristianos (that’s roast pork, ripe plantains, and beans and rice for you gringos) in Miami, and when I got old enough, mojitos were added to the mix. But I’ve always thought the mojito could stand to be improved, so I’m really happy to have found the drink recipe that one-ups the mojito in just the way I like.

It’s called a bajito.

It’s not a new recipe- after all I found it in that venerable bar guide, Mr. Boston. But it’s new to me, and it’s my new summer cocktail. Basically, it’s a mojito with the addition of basil and with straining so that you don’t end up with sprigs of mint stuck between your teeth. And no club soda, either, which I’ve always felt clouds the flavor of the rum.

About that rum — you should have a good quality dark rum in your bar arsenal. Most people only have light, and that’s nice and all, but dark rum brings a lot more flavor to a drink like this. Our rum is a 12-year-old aged rum from Colombia. My uncle worked for the company when he was young, and we’re kinda brand loyal. Of course, that means I have to have somebody import some for me every couple of years, but that’s a small price to pay. Myers is a good, easy-to-find alternative, although there are also some nice premium dark rums available at your local BevMo or whatever. Tell you what, they’re not nearly as expensive as all those premium tequilas that have flooded the market.

And get some mint and basil plants. They’re easy to keep alive (hell, mint is practically a weed, you’ll have to work to keep it contained) and you’ll save tons by not having to buy cut herbs at the supermarket. I got a pretty big mint plant at the farmers’ market this morning for $3 and we’ll be using it all summer.

Add some limes (if you’ve got a tree, even better) and you’ll always have the ingredients of this drink handy.

Bajito (courtesy Mr. Boston)

4 fresh mint leaves
4 fresh basil leaves
5 slices fresh lime
1 tbsp. simple syrup
3 oz. dark rum

In cocktail shaker, muddle the mint and basil with the lime slices and syrup. Top with ice and then rum. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled cocktail glass.

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