Infused Rum Is The Mojito Shortcut You Need To Know

Mojitos are a classic drink, but if you're looking for a way to take your cocktail to the next level, try mint-washing to infuse your drink with maximum flavor. Never heard of mint-washing? The term, coined by Danish bartender Peter Altenburg, describes the method he developed to shortcut the time-consuming, and noisy, process of muddling mint for a mojito. Similar to fat-washing, the process noted cocktail consultant and educator Don Lee rocketed into mainstream cocktail lexicon with the debut of his Benton's Old-Fashioned in 2007, mint-washing is the art of infusing spirits with mint. The shortcut is a game changer for mojito lovers who want to cut down on in-the-moment prep.

Make no mistake: Infusing rum with mint takes time. That said, the effort involved is all upfront. It's like prepping a home-cooked meal in advance so it's ready to heat and serve when your guests arrive. Start by making a mint-based oleo saccharum — it's not as scary as it sounds. The name is Latin for "sugar oil." A mainstay ingredient in professional bartenders' bags of tricks, it's most commonly made with sugar and lemon, but just about any citrus — or, in this case, herb — will work. Muddle a blend of superfine sugar and fresh mint (stems and leaves). Refrigerate the mixture overnight. The following day, add rum and place the now-spirited blend in the freezer for 24 hours. Remove. Thaw. Strain. Voila! You have mint-infused rum ready to go for your next round of mojitos.

Let your creative spirit be your guide

You're not just limited to mojitos — or rum. You can used infused spirits in just about any mint-forward cocktail. And if you find yourself missing the minty garnish, add a sprig or two right before serving. A few options to consider: Mint-infused bourbon, already sweetened with oleo saccharum, could replace the mint muddle and the simple syrup in a mint julep. Same goes for a refreshing gin-based South Side Rickey. If you're a fan of the classic Brazilian caipirinha, try infusing cachaça with fresh mint. How about mint-infused tequila in a classic tequila smash? Or, experiment with a mint-basil infusion to create a rum bajito.

This brings us to the next logical step: This infusion tip also works with just about any herb-forward cocktail. No need to limit your creative spirit — pun intended — to experimenting with mint. For a summery twist, try lemon verbena-infused sherry in a verbena spritz. Another spritz idea? Mix lavender-infused gin and vermouth topped with a hit of sparkling water.