Thai Basil & Kumquat Mojitos

There are plenty of mediocre mojitos to be had in this world, but a REALLY GOOD mojito will change the way you think about this classic cocktail forever. The first perfectly executed mojito I ever had was in Salamanca, Spain when I was studying abroad in college, and I’ve been trying to get back to that perfection ever since.

Thai Basil and Kumquat Mojitos

Seeing as we were students at the time, cheap drinks were far more the priority over great drinks, but these mojitos were the exception. They were so perfectly balanced with the just the exact right amount of mint, sugar, and lime.

A great mojito is refreshing above all else. It screams of summer time and patios. Lime and mint pair together to create a bright and lively drink worthy enough to be a vacation cocktail but simple enough for a backyard barbecue.

Thai Basil and Kumquat Mojitos

Since mojitos are so simple at baseline, they lend themselves really well to creative twists. I recently found kumquats at a market in Nashville, and I’ve been having lots of fun experimenting with them.

Kumquats are nature’s version of a warhead candy (anyone remember those?!). They’re a citrus fruit that are entirely edible – skin, pith, and all. The fruit segments are sharp and tart, but the rinds are super sweet with just a slight bitterness.

Lime, Thai Basil, and Kumquats muddled with white sugar

Since one of the essential ingredients of classic mojitos is citrusy lime, adding another citrus fruit to make kumquat mojitos only seemed natural.

And since mint is arguably the flavor backbone of a classic mojito, adding a similarly refreshing herb to the kumquat mojitos in the form of Thai basil also only seemed natural. Thai basil and kumquats both hail originally from South Asia, so combining them together with mint and lime just works. What grows together goes together.

Thai Basil and Kumquat Mojitos

Thai Basil & Kumquat Mojitos

The Key to Success:

Mojitos typically rely on muddling lime with mint and sugar to provide all the sweetness and flavor in the drink. Any time I’ve made mojitos this way, I’ve found the process time consuming and the end result always a little flat. They’ve never been the intensely flavored and refreshing mojitos from Salamanca that I remember so fondly.

Lime and kumquats muddled with sugar

The muddling of citrus, sugar, and mint is important because it releases the oils in the herbs so that it can perfume the cocktail. But it’s NOT the best mechanism for extracting the tart sweetness you need from the sugar and lime juice.

For that I relied on a simple syrup made with not water but lime juice. It cut down the time I spent muddling the fruit for each drink and ultimately resulted in a kumquat mojito that was a fierce competitor for best mojito I’ve ever drank.

Kumquats, Thai Basil, and Limes

Once you have the lime simple syrup made, the rest of the assembly for the kumquat mojitos is a breeze. You simply muddle some sugar + limes + kumquats + Thai basil + mint, add the lime simple syrup, add rum, and add club soda.

You’re that close away from an epic, bright, and refreshing cocktail. 10 minutes or less, I promise!

Thai Basil and Kumquat Mojitos

Cheers!

Thai Basil & Kumquat Mojitos

Thai Basil and Kumquat Mojitos are just as bright, refreshing and punchy as classic mojitos but with just a little unexpected twist!

Course Cocktail
Cuisine American, Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 1

Ingredients

For the Lime Simple Syrup

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

For the Thai Basil & Kumquat Mojito

  • 3 small lime wedges
  • 3 kumquats halved
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 4-5 Thai Basil leaves
  • 8-9 mint leaves
  • 3/4 oz lime simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz clear rum
  • Club soda chilled

Instructions

Lime Simple Syrup

  1. Combine lime juice and sugar in a small microwave safe bowl or small pitcher, stir and microwave for 30 seconds

  2. Remove from microwave, stir again to dissolve the sugar in the heated liquid.  Microwave and stir as needed again to full dissolve the sugar within the liquid

Thai Basil & Kumquat Mojitos

  1. Add lime wedges, kumquats, sugar, Thai basil, and mint to a high ball glass.  Use a spoon or pestle to muddle the herbs with the sugar and citrus fruit so that the herbs are very fragrant

  2. Add ice to the glass and pour lime simple syrup and rum over top.  Stir to combine all ingredients evenly. 

  3. Top with club soda to taste and serve!


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