Equal parts sun and shade

Liz Miela crafts Encore's Champagne Lemongrass Mojito

Encore’s Champagne Lemongrass Mojito
  • Encore’s Champagne Lemongrass Mojito

Encore Champagne Bar

531 F Street, Downtown San Diego

Mixers and historians of the dram are both debating: does the Mojito derive its name from the spiced Cuban citrus seasoning known in those parts as mojo, or from the Spanish word mojadito (“a little wet”)? Whether the name is homegrown or imported, this Cuban cousin to the caipirinha, a literal mash-up of lime, rum, and mint, has become standard procedure for those intent on maximizing summer — or even Indian summer — with equal parts sun and shade.

Improvising with its 100-bottle-strong champagne list, Encore offers a Frank (that is, French) reappraisal of the classic mojito for sunbathers of all shades with the Champagne Lemongrass Mojito.

“We were playing with some classic cocktails behind the bar and came up with this variation on the mojito,” says Encore’s assistant manager Liz Mieli. “Besides the brut, we added some lemongrass to make the drink fresh and crisp. We wanted to keep the mojito’s effervescence, but we also wanted to give it an extra punch and additional flavor.”

Replacing the usual soda water with high-end bubbly, Mieli says, provides the drink with a supercharged platform from which to launch the mojito’s traditional flavors.

“The Piper-Heidsieck gives the drink a little added taste which enhances the other flavors more than it adds its own flavor,” she says. “At the same time, the brut keeps the drink crisp, clean, and refreshing by bringing out the taste of the lemongrass, lime, and mint.”

The lemongrass innovation, Mieli says, provides some aromatic earthiness to the drink it wouldn’t otherwise have.

“The lemongrass makes the drink more rounded,” she says. “Mojitos can be very sweet, but in our version, the acidity of the limes and the savor of lemongrass — we don’t use an overwhelming amount of simple syrup — tone down the sweetness as well.”


HOW TO MAKE IT

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 oz. rum
  • 3 fresh lime wedges
  • 5 leaves fresh mint
  • 3 pieces lemongrass
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • 2–3 oz. Piper-Heidsieck Brut

Squeeze lime wedges into shaker tin with simple syrup, add mint leaves and lemongrass (after slapping strands against cutting board to release flavors), muddle, add ice and rum, shake vigorously, pour all contents into Collins glass, top with brut.

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