Inspired by the classic mojito, subtle and elegant touches such as organic lemongrass and vanilla add a twist to this classic, and Champagne delivers a class of luxury, akin to ‘tasting the stars’. Savor this cocktail over a mountain of crushed ice made from spring water.
1 1/2 ounces of agricultural white rum (eg, la mauny, cachaca, etc.)
1 ounce of lemongrass vanilla syrup (see below)
3 1/3 ounces of Champagne
4 wedges of fresh large organic lime (recommended cultivar: Tahitian)
2 stalks of fresh organic spearmint
6 ounces of crushed ice (recommended to be made from spring water)
For the lemongrass vanilla syrup:
7 ounces of raw cane sugar
7 ounces of spring water
7 stalks of organic lemongrass
1 organic bourbon vanilla pod
Total: about 6 ounces per serving (guide for glassware)
Utility knife and chopping board
Glass bottle (perhaps reused from finished spirits, at least 14 ounces in capacity)
Crushed ice machine or a very good blender
Collins glass (9-12 ounces) with a thick sturdy base, for service
Chill the glassware and Champagne until ready for use.
Prepare the lemongrass cane sugar syrup:
Peel off the first outer layer of the lemongrass, and rinse thoroughly. Cut off 1/3 of an inch at the base, and then use only the white bottom 1/3 of the stalk (the most aromatic part of the bulb). Cut into thin slices, and keep aside the upper sections of the stalks.
Dissolve the sugar in the spring water over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add lemongrass slices, stirring occasionally over medium to low heat for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla pod that has been sliced down the middle, cover the pot and allow further infusion for another 45-60 minutes. Once cooled, using a funnel and sieve, strain the mixture into the glass bottle, leaving in the vanilla pod. Refrigerate until ready for use.
Prepare the crushed ice:
Make the spring water ice cubes with the smallest possible ice cube molds at least a day in advance.
Prepare the cocktail:
From the remaining lemongrass stalks, make a vertical slit along the length of each and peel off the first few layers, keeping the form as intact as possible. Wrap stalks around the plastic straws of each drink (it’s preferable to use straws of a similar hue to the lemongrass). This serves as an interesting ‘functional’ garnish.
Rinse the spearmint and lime. For the former, use the top four leaves together with the tiniest branches, and only the leaves for the rest of the stalk. Cut the lime across the segments (not from stem to stem), and cut each half into four wedges.
Place the lime, spearmint and lemongrass syrup into the Collins glass. With the flat side of the muddler placed into the base, apply downward pressure using the inside of your palm. Muddle until most solid ingredients are well broken up, followed by adding the rum. At this point, prepare the crushed ice and add it into the Collins glass. Stir with the bar spoon until the glass feels well chilled. Top up with champagne, stir a bit, add the straw and pile some of the crushed ice on top. Additional spearmint garnish is an option.
[Mixologist’s Notes: 1 ounce is equivalent to 30 milliliter (ml), 1/2 ounce is equivalent to 15 milliliter (ml), 1/3 ounce is equivalent to 10 milliliter (ml).]
Recipe and photo by Damian Sim
INSPIRATION FOR LEMONGRASS CHAMPAGNE MOJITO
BY DAMIAN SIM
Lemon and Shrimp just seems to be the most natural pairing for June’s theme. Lemon is so popular with seafood because it neutralizes the ‘fishiness’ of seafood dishes; I was inspired to go along these refreshing lines, but decided to use lemongrass instead.
Lemongrass derives its aroma mainly from citral, the same essential oil found in lemon peel. I’ve always found cocktail recipes using muddled lemongrass to be lacking aromatically, so I decided to go with an infusion flavoring method. With pairing shrimp in mind, I looked at clean and sparkling cocktails, of which one of my personal favorites is the Mojito.
This libation combines the simple elements of fresh lime, mint, sugar, rum, soda and crushed ice – a real thirst-quencher. The mojito is such a wonderful cocktail that I sought to create a variation with subtle touches for which the lemongrass is perfect. The more robust spearmint is used in place of ordinary mint, and one of the best Tahitian limes is also suggested. Typically crafted with a mix of agricultural and industrial rum, I veered towards the ‘greener’ agricultural rum instead.
I can sometimes be quite a sweet-tooth, which is why I often find Mojitos made with powdered sugar not sweet enough, as the sugar tends not to mix well. Thus a liquid cane sugar is used for this recipe, through which we add elements of bourbon vanilla and lemongrass as a twist. The liquid form also allows a more aromatic flavoring through infusion.
For the sparkling lift, I have selected the best quality bubbles offered by Champagne. Compared to the artificial carbonation of soda water, Champagne delivers much finer bubbles that dance on the palate, and last much longer.
For the ice, I have showcased a belief I have been championing at Provocachic: the use of quality water to produce the cubes. The quality of water is often touted in the production of good spirits, yet right before it reaches the end consumer, tap water ice is diluted into the drinks served. For this recipe, spring water has been used to make the crushed ice and sugar syrup, a suggestion I first came across in an article by author and food critic (US Vogue) Jeffrey Steingarten.
Thus we have spearmint, lemongrass, Tahitian lime, agricultural rum, bourbon vanilla, cane sugar, Champagne and crushed ice made from spring water. Staying true to the recipe which inspires it, this cocktail is aptly entitled the Lemongrass Champagne Mojito.