The drink I’m about to describe to you came about because of a character flaw. I’m rarely capable of following a recipe as written. Sometimes this leads to good things. One of my favorite bread recipes began life as Sour Cream Bread in James Beard’s wonderful book, Beard on Bread. I’ve baked from my hardback copy of this book so many times that the cover has fallen off. But I never did bake his Sour Cream Bread, because the first time I went to make it, the closest thing to sour cream in the fridge was whole milk yoghurt. Did I run to the grocery? Nah. I subbed in the yoghurt ounce for ounce, and a lifelong favorite, Yoghurt Bread, was born.
The Machete is a similar case. Our daughter Katie, a talented cocktail hobbyist, had told me precisely how to make a White Mojito. She’d done her online research, her bar top tinkering, and emailed me a recipe for the result. It calls for white rum (of course she specified the brand), angostura bitters, fresh-squeezed lime juice, simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water), and exactly 9-10 leaves of mint. Glen and I had planted our spring herbs, and the mint was taking off. Along came a warm afternoon, and there it was—the perfect excuse to make ourselves some White Mojitos! Then I started assembling the ingredients and realized it was Beard on Bread all over again.
I didn’t have white rum; I had gold. Didn’t have limes, but I had lemons. No angostura bitters, but oddly enough I found an unopened bottle of orange bitters in the pantry. No idea where it came from. So: gold rum, orange bitters, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and mint. How could that be anything but good? I got out the cocktail shaker and made a double batch for Glen and me. (Did I count out 9-10 mint leaves? Pffft. No.) Delicious. It needed a name.
I wanted a name sort of like mojito. Something conjuring Latin America, subtly masculine. I wondered if machito was a word in Spanish, and if so, did it stem from macho? I looked it up. It’s a word, alright, and it’s a diminutive of macho. But machitos are a dish made from the small intestines of livestock, typically young goats, fried up and/or stuffed with various other ingredients. The details are vague. A couple of descriptions likened the dish to haggis, the Scottish specialty made from sheep offal and oatmeal (among other savories), and traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach. Three thoughts on this:
1. I’m sure machitos are delicious.
2. I can’t understand why I’ve never heard of them before.
3. I don’t want to name a cocktail after them.
Then I noticed that in the list of search terms that popped up as I began typing “mach—” was the word machete, also sharing etymological roots with macho. This sounded perfect for a drink made from gold rum. Rum, a Caribbean, Latin American alcohol, is made from sugarcane. What is sugarcane cut with? Among other things, machetes. Kismet.
In a cocktail shaker, put:
A sprig of mint, slightly bruised
2 ½ oz. gold rum
1 oz. fresh lemon juice (not bottled shelf-stable juice)
1 T. simple syrup (1:1)
2 dashes orange bitters
Add ice to the shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint. Makes 1.
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