I do apologize for this if you live anywhere but in southern California, but it was 80 degrees in southern California this past week. That said, the lingering heat might explain the mint for sale at my local farmer’s market. I could go on about the celery root I bought, I could talk about the apples, the brussels sprouts, the chard, and any other autumnal produce. But, honestly, the mint I saw and picked up (almost out of novelty) put me in the mind of cocktails. And, more precisely, it put me in the mind of how certain cocktail principles and techniques can trickle down to the world of kids’ drinks. See, in the slicker gin mills of the big cities, mojitos, caipirinhas, and other muddled cocktails might be considered as uncool as a cosmpolitans—but the foundational technique behind their prep is actually a novelty in the realm of kids drinks. That technique would be called “muddling”: which is to say, smashing aromatic ingredients in the bottom of glass to release flavors and infuse the drink with general yumminess. What is a virgin mojito but a lightly flavored minty limeade?
Apart from eschewing booze, use unbreakable cups. You also need a muddler (I got mine from a woman who made me my first mojito at the original Global 33 lounge in the East Village back in ‘95, but you can buy them here. This one is all of $1.18) and let your kids do the smashing:
Minty Lime Smash
You could call this a virgin Mojito, but that might alarm certain people.
1 lime, cut into 8ths
2 teaspoons sugar
5 mint leaves
in the bottom of an unbreakable cup, muddle lime, sugar, and mint leaves (that is, pound and smash it with a muddler; the handle of a wooden spoon works too) until all the juice and oils are released and the sugar dissolved. Add ice, water (sparkling or still), and stir. Serve to a kid. If the kid rejects it, add a shot of white rum and call it a mojito and drink it yourself.