I wanted to try a new recipe this week. Something light and clean and fresh-tasting as a way of toasting the new spring season. Well, I found one I'm absolutely over the moon about: the Kew Garden cocktail.
Created by Jim Meehan - the same mixologist who brought us the Black Cup - the Kew Garden is a combination of blended rum, elderflower liqueur, simple syrup, and lime juice with a healthy dose of mint and cucumber muddled in for extra flavor and a splash of club soda to give the drink a little extra lightness, brightness, and fizz.
Billed as a "floral, savory Mojito variation," the Kew Garden gets its name from the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew in southwest London (not to be confused with the neighborhood of the same name in Queens). The botanical connection? This recipe features a complexly flavored blended rum, Banks 5-Island, named for the globetrotting, plant-gathering British explorer, Joseph Banks, who curated the gardens as an adviser to King George III sometime around 1773.
The unique taste of the rum itself is a point of interest too. A blend of over 20 aged spirits originating from 5 distinctive rum-producing regions: Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, and Java, Banks 5-Island has a complexly layered flavor profile: a combination of tropical fruit, grass, and a faint whiff of cachaça-like funk.
Given the drink's promising list of ingredients (a flavorful rum, elderflower liqueur, mint, cucumber, lime), my expectations were already pretty high for this recipe. Well, I've got to say, when I tried it out myself at home, it was even better than I imagined: fresh, clean, herbaceous. Not too sweet or too sour. A perfect balance of elements. A gorgeous drink for spring.
2 ounces Banks 5‐Island Rum*
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water - for the super-simple recipe, just click here)
1/2 ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
8 mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
3 cucumber slices, plus 1 for garnish
[*Banks 5-Island started rolling out in U.S. markets in the fall of 2010. If it isn't yet available in your area, I'd suggest substituting another flavorful white rum, such as a rhum agricole.]
Add 8 mint leaves, 3 cucumber slices and the simple syrup to a mixing glass and muddle. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the club soda) and ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and a cucumber wheel.
What are you drinking this spring?
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.
(Images: Nora Maynard)