On a recent indecisive March weekend (where it was snowing on Friday night and 70 degrees on Sunday afternoon when daylight savings time changed), I was suddenly hit with a craving for the refreshing flavors of spring. So I pulled out my Moroccan Mint tea-infused rum, some fresh basil, a lemon and locally-made Modern Gingham Lemon Balm Jelly, and I went to town on some Lemon Basil Mojitos.
One of the most fun aspects of being a small artisan in any local food scene is the opportunity for collaboration. Most of the artisans I’ve met in Denver’s food scene are curious, creative and willing to share their experiences and their products with other foodies who have vision and imagination. This is how I became a friend of and collaborator with Kathy, the owner of Modern Gingham Preserves, a flavorful and forward thinking artisan food business based in Denver, Colorado.
Kathy’s preserves are some of the best I’ve ever had: creative flavor combinations, nothing too sweet and almost always something unexpected. Kathy has even created a few products using some of my Zanitea hand blended teas: After Dinner Tea Brined Pickles, Citrus Spice Tea Infused Orange Marmalade and Bright Grey Lemon Tea Marmalade. While not tea-infused, some of my favorite new products from Modern Gingham include Lemon Balm Jelly and Basil Jelly. These are both more refreshing than sweet and they each add the perfect dash of sweetness to the tea-infused cocktails I’ve been working on in my tea foodie kitchen.
Feel free to swap out any of the suggested ingredients in this mojito recipe…use dark rum or vodka instead of white rum, use another favorite tea blend, use orange or lime instead of lemon, use mint instead of basil, or use your favorite local brand of preserves as the sweetener. This is a flexible and forgiving cocktail concoction.
Lemon Basil Mojitos
By Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie
Makes 2 mojitos and 1 cup of tea-infused rum
For Moroccan Mint tea-infused rum:
8 oz. white rum
1 tablespoon loose leaf Moroccan Mint tea (or your favorite mint green tea blend)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
2 thick lemon slices, halved
4 teaspoons lemon balm jelly (or your favorite local citrus or herb flavored jelly)
4 oz. Moroccan Mint tea-infused rum
enough ice to fill 2 tall glasses
1 (12 oz.) can seltzer water
For the tea-infused rum: Combine the rum and tea leaves in a sealable glass jar and let steep for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Strain and discard tea leaves. Infused rum will keep for months, sealed, at room temperature.
For the mojitos: Divide the bunch of basil leaves in half and add each half to a tall cocktail glass. Add half of each lemon slice plus 2 teaspoons of jelly to each glass. Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, muddle the ingredients together for at least a minute. Add 2 oz. of rum to each glass, fill the glass with ice, and top with seltzer water. Stir to combine. Place the other half of each lemon slice on the rim of the glasses and serve.