Today, I’m making a virgin mojito, or a ‘nojito’ as I call them. Alcohol doesn’t have a monopoly on awesome drinks and these alcohol free cocktails full of bashed up lime and mint make the perfect mocktail to tease your tastebuds, whatever the weather.
I don’t drink alcohol, I stopped a few years ago. I wondered what the future of drinking would hold for me, was I destined for a life filled with fizzy water, squash and fruit juice? Had I just turned my back on the diverse, technicolour world of cocktails forever, consigned to boring, simple drinks forever more?
Well, no. That was clearly not the case and simply the ‘old’ Gavin wondering how any drink that doesn’t have alcohol could ever be exciting. The fact is, virgin cocktails still taste absolutely awesome, there is no need to have alcohol in them, unless you want to get drunk. Without the alcohol, they are still amazing drinks and getting drunk doesn’t make life exciting.
As somebody who no longer wants to get drunk, I begrudgingly dabbled my toes into the world of mocktails, assuming them to be shams and discovered they taste fantastic. I always considered mocktails like Virgin Marys or Virgin Mojito a complete waste of space, it’s amazing what skewed logic and biased thinking the simple presence of alcohol brought to my perception of drinks.
Like a Virgin.
On my Birthday last year, having returned from Billingsgate Fish Market with 24 native oysters as a celebratory lunch, I decided to make a Virgin Mary for myself. I used my age old, tried, tested and trusted Bloody Mary recipe, but didn’t include the item which I had previously maintained was the key to success – Absolut Peppar.
It was bloody good. Seriously good in fact. I made another, then had one the next day as well. Alcohol doesn’t have a monopoly on good tasting drinks, if it did, then we would drink alcohol, or plain water and nothing in between. That, however, is not how life works, so virgin cocktails are now firmly on my list things that I enjoy in life.
At a party a few weeks ago, a Brazilian friend offered me a Caipirinha. I declined, explaining that I don’t drink alcohol. She came back shortly, with a glass full of lime and said she’d made it without alcohol, and frankly, it tasted amazing. It was precisely the kind of drink that I could see myself lounging on a hot summer’s day, gently sipping at the cold, sweet muddled lime and feeling supremely refreshed as a result. It was simply a great tasting drink.
I came home and decided to spend a little bit of time fiddling with the components of that other amazing South American cocktail, the Mojito, in the quest of making yet another fantastic alcohol free cocktail. It was a simple challenge, because the ingredients are so few and the flavours so stunningly refreshing, you simply cannot get it wrong.
The summer sun is only just around the corner and I’ve spent a few days basking in the springtime warmth in my back garden recently, in the little sun-trap corner next to my olive tree. When the air temperature really warms, not only will my pooch be by my side, but also a crisp, cold, fresh virgin mojito.
By Gavin Wren
Uses a glass and a muddler
12 mint leaves
1 lime, quartered
1 tablespoon sugar
Add ice to fill the glass, then fill with soda water.