10,410 Cane Rums

(The title here is a takeoff on an obscure, but great, Jule Styne-Doris Day song, "10,432 Sheep".)

This weekend I've drunk a lot of rum. I mean A LOT. I'm signing up for the British navy in the morning. Billy Budd, c'est moi.

I got in from my trip to South Beach at 2 am Saturday morning. More on that another time. All day Saturday I felt like I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation, so late afternoon I headed for my local liquor emporium.

I was a man on a mission. I was looking for 10 Cane rum's mojito kit. (Of all the drinks I imbibed in SoBe, a mojito wasn't one of them.) I looked first on the mixer shelves, then the odds and ends shelves, then I wandered over to the rum section. No kit. I didn't expect to find it locally.

But I turned around, and voila, there it was, in a nice little free-standing display, maybe a half dozen or so kits. My pal who works there told me they sell a lot of them. $34 and change for a very generous 750 ml bottle of 10 Cane rum (hell, the bottle I've been nursing for the last month or so is only half that size), my favorite, and a quart bottle of sweet lime-mint mixer, both in a sturdy white box that looks like it could have made it to SoBe and back in my carry-on. Supply your favorite club soda.

I saw my sister the travel agent (and I'd booked my trip through Expedia; oh, well) out on their patio, so I grocery store plastic bagged up the mixer kit (with a bottle of club soda and a couple handfuls of extra mint from my herb bed) and trekked over there. I figured she'd be up for a cocktail, even after several bottles of Coors Lite (can you not say yum-o?).

Sure enough. In fact, she said she'd never had a mojito before. So I set to work. Luckily, they had a fresh bag of crushed ice in their freezer and a stainless steel shaker. While I was mixologing, my niece wandered into the kitchen and asked, "Why are those weeds on the counter?" (weeds = mint) Her mom explained what the weeds were and said she could chew on one if she liked. She did and didn't. Well, mint doesn't come with sugar added, my sister said. She's funnier when she's slightly buzzed.

She and my brother-in-law liked the mojitos; they both said they taste like Doublemint. They were a little weak for me, probably too much club soda at the end since I didn't measure it out, just poured it in and stirred. I tasted the mixer while I was making them (NO, I did NOT drink it straight out of the bottle, protesting too much), and it's nicely subtle: a mellow sweet lime, not as sharp or as syrupy as Rose's, and the mint is done with a light hand, floating in the background.

After a couple of those (and she'd never drunk 10 Cane either; she's led a sheltered Lutheran life), we moved on to daiquiris. I'd bought a small bag of limes at the store that morning, so I dragged myself home, Rosa trotting along behind since the brats from the grill were gone and her reason for being there too, and grocery bagged those along with some simple syrup and a knife and a reamer. (Hell, I was lucky they had a cocktail shaker.)

The daiquiris made with 10 Cane were even better. I heard my sister say after I'd taken the first two out to the patio and was mixing mine, "Boy, these are strong." She's used to Applebee's happy hour cocktails. And Coors Lite. But when I took mine outside and tasted it, I agreed--too much like limed-up fire water. I went back in and got the simple syrup and sloshed some into our cups (yes, I confess, I'm back to using my beloved red Solo cups again), and that made all the difference. The daiquiris were really tasty, what a summer cocktail should be.

Today I decided to try an 'authentic' Cuban mojito recipe I found online. The main difference here is using powdered sugar instead of simple syrup, and of course you muddle the mint, lime juice, and sugar. This was OK with the 10 Cane, very minty, maybe a little too much.

Then I gave the 10 Cane kit another go, measuring everything, especially the club soda, out exactly this time, and tossed in a little fresh mint at the end. This was the best mojito of the bunch. Just sweet enough and minty enough and not so much soda that it diluted the rum flavor. A good summer drink. Online somewhere a fellow cocktail blogger says you shouldn't make mojitos from a mix (or when the temperature is under 70-something degrees or after Labor Day and other silly 'rules'), but he obviously hasn't tried 10 Cane's.