Basil-Orange Mojito and Macerated Pepper Cocktail

Are you guys excited for the finale of Top Chef tomorrow night?? Is anyone else disappointed that Fabio went home? His drink was the main reason he went home, but it just sounded so wacky that Mandi and I needed to try it! Macerated red pepper? Macerated in what? Who knows? We also made one of my favorite drinks of all time; a basil-orange mojito. I first had this at a Thai restaurant here in Bermuda, and they took it off the menu one week later!!! Obviously I had to recreate it.

First the basil-orange mojito. Fresh orange is important. Squeeze a bunch of oranges at the beginning of the night so you don’t need to open an orange every time someone wants a drink. You need about one orange per drink.

Lots of effort for not much juice.

I usually don’t measure, but this was for science. Also this is Mandi’s favorite kitchen tool. She also uses it as a shot glass and calls it Dudley.

Mojito tip number 1: do not not not NOT NOT NOT NOT muddle your drink! Just don’t do it. Throw away that muddler that came free with the purchase of the Bacardi gift pack. Muddling leaves you with gross wilted leaves, whether it’s basil, mint, or whatever herby cocktail you are making.

Instead, slap the leaves in your palm 3 or 4 times. This will leave them bright green and still holding their shape. It will get the natural oils flowing out of the herbs but won’t change the flavor the way muddling does.

Add the leaves to the orange juice and stir.  Next add ice, rum, and simple syrup (Measurements below).

Finish it off with soda water. This drink is fantastic!

Now on to Fabio’s concoction. We basically had to wing it because no
recipe was shown. All we knew was that it was too sweet. Because Fabio
makes that mistake a lot. Because he a-likes things a-sweet.

We macerated the peppers in simple syrup. It gave the syrup and the peppers both an interesting flavor.

We pretty much made this drink into a salad. Want to know how to get your tomatoes peeled like this? Check out the how-to in my stubble section. After peeling them, I lightly salted them (very lightly) and mashed them up with a fork. I let them sit for a half hour and then I was able to mash them even further. Then we strained the mixture into a beautiful pink liquid.

Looks good enough to drink! Well it was!

The simple syrup in this gave it a peppery boost, and the soda water kept it very light and crisp; far away from bloody mary territory.

Unfortunatly, like Fabio, we made it a little too sweet. I make my simple syrup pretty strong because I don’t think drinks need excess water, especially if I am finishing them off with soda water, but in this situation, a lighter simple syrup would maybe help.

It still had very interesting flavors and would be much better with less sugar.

Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
Heat until sugar is dissolved

Basil-Orange Mojito
4 or 5 small basil leaves
1 part fresh squeezed orange juice
1 part rum
¼ part simple syrup
2 or 3 parts soda water (to taste or fill glass)

Macerated Pepper Tomato Cucumber Cocktail
1 part tomato juice
1 part vodka
¼ part simple syrup
5 chunks of cucumber
2 or 3 parts soda water (to taste or fill glass)