Welcome 2016! Although we are expecting a rather gloomy weather forecast for New Year’s eve, the festive buzz has already hit everywhere. More people are to be seen in supermarkets and shops bargaining to get last-minute best deals than in office and work areas. Those [like me] who did have to drag themselves to work got to enjoy the benefit of sneaking off early to add finishing touches to their dinner plans. Many will be looking forward to a special meal tonight to celebrate the traditional réveillon en famille. My party is going to be [as usual] alcohol-free, so I will be serving my favorite mocktail, the Virgin Mojito, adapted from Jamie Oliver‘s rum based mojito.

The drink, thought to have originated from Cuba, is a mixture of white rum and fresh mint leaves, lime wedges and sugar cane juice. Nowadays several versions are available in bars and restaurants worldwide but all remain true to the basic ingredients that give the mojito its trademark taste. While it is a refreshing and relatively inexpensive drink to make for a summer party, mojitos should ideally be mixed and served right away as they cannot be stored for long. Instead of rum, I turned to sparkling water but I have no doubt that lemonade, Sprite or chilled apple juice would do a great job if you plan to serve this to kids and those avoiding alcohol. And yes, do NOT drink and drive!

VIRGIN MOJITO

Ingredients:

2 cups sparkling water

2 fresh limes, quartered

12 fresh mint leaves

3 spoons unrefined sugar

Dash of soda water

Crushed ice

Sprig of fresh mint

Method:

  • Put four lime wedges into each glass, add sugar and squish everything together to release lime juice.

  • Put the mint leaves on one hand and clap. This bruises the leaves and releases their delicate aroma.

  • Rub mint leaves around the rim of the glass and drop them in. Gently push them into the lime juice.

  • Half fill the glass with crushed ice and pour in sparkling water. Stir together till the sugar dissolves.

  • Top up with the crushed ice, a splash of the soda water and garnish it with a sprig of mint. Serves 2.

Happy New Year 2016!