Sunday, June 10, 2012


More than a handful of years ago, I found myself in Manhattan for business. I'd lived there for a spell in my early 20s (as did my mother), and I think for both of us, the City has a special allure for us. It gets my heart pumping and I feel infused with energy. Whenever I have the good fortune to find myself there, I don't want to sleep. I want to literally walk around all night, soaking in the smells, the people, the sights, and, of course, the food (high- and low-brow). 

On this particular trip, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a friend I'd worked with in Club Med who was then the promotions manager for GQ and had no qualms about flexing his business card muscle to get into the hot spots around town. It's very convenient to have a friend like that, especially when you love food as much as I do. I'd been dying to try this recently opened restaurant that was booked out for months. But thanks to Andrew, we walked in and they walked us right to a table. I felt like a celebrity. It was awesome. 

While I perused the menu, the chic waitress recommended we try the blood orange mojito and I happily complied. She warned me, though, that they were so good you could drink 15 of them and not bat an eye, which is basically what I did. With that set up, it's probably no surprise to hear that I was later ejected from an exclusive night club for being "uncooperative." I don't remember much from that night, but I do recall with crystal clarity that delicious drink. While not a massive mojito fan (they're a little sweet for me), that particular version remains on my shortlist of favorite libations I've downed. It might have been the exotic ambience, feeling drunk on old memories with a very dear friend, or the simple fact that I was in New York again. Regardless, I loved that drink, yet I've never had another one. 

Until today. It was one of those lovely summer afternoons with blazing heat that can only be abated with a refreshing beverage.  I wish I could tell you that I jetted myself to Manhattan for Happy Hour but I didn't. I just had some leftover blood orange sparkling Italian soda from Trader Joe's in my refrigerator and thought, "Why not?" I'm certainly not at risk of being thrown out of any bars if I drink at home. So I gave it my best shot. 

Did it match what I had that night? Not even close, but it did the job. It made me smile recalling one crazy night, one fabulous friend and did a stellar job of quenching my thirst. While difficult, I did manage not to drink 15 . . . and no one called me uncooperative. 

Quick-and-Dirty Blood Orange Mojito

2.5 oz of white rum
1.5 oz simple syrup
4 oz of blood orange Italian soda (or lemon-flavored sparkling water with the juice of a blood orange)
Handful of fresh mint
Slices of lime

Fill a glass with ice, add the mint leaves and bruise to release some of the oil from the mint. Pour in the rum, simple syrup and soda. Squeeze a large, juicy lime slice into it and shake. Sip and smile. 

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