I love the refreshing taste of mojitos in the summer.Summertime, lazy, warm afternoons by the pool. You’re sipping your mojito feeling hot and looking cool. You shimmy up to the girl ready to make your move and a big fat piece of mint stuck to your teeth spoils your groove… I love the refreshing taste of mojitos in the summer but I hate the whole muddled lawnmower droppings vibe that, for me, spoils the whole affair.

In a strange cross continental fusion, a trans dimentionale time portal brings an old time Polish Nalewka to clean up the messy mojito’s vibe. It’s called Miętówka and it’s been the mainstay of Polish cellars since way back when the word vodka first appeared in the court documents of the Palatinate of Sandomierz.

Mint has been part of the traditional, shamanistic healing arsenal since before recorded history. Mint’s refreshing, invigorating, disinfectant, healing and above all olfactory properties have made it an indespensable ingredient of balms, ointments, potpourris, teas and eventually vodka infusions. Miętówka, a vodka infusion of mint, has a very long tradition in Eastern Europe.

One afternoon after returning home from a ocean side bar and picking the mangled remains of mint from my teeth I decided to change my mojito drinking experience for the better.

Pineapple mint, spearmint, peppermint and blackberry leaves. Soaking up the rays sucking up the mint flavors. First filtering — tasty but a little week.
Pineapple mint, spearmint, peppermint and blackberry leaves. Soaking up the rays sucking up the mint flavors. First filtering — tasty but a little week.

What could be simpler? I happen to grow a variety of mints in my yard and I always have some vodka handy just in case the Nalewka muse strikes unexpectedly.

So, for this quick version I gathered a all my mints: spearmint, peppermint and pineapple mint. Because in one of the old recipes I have read they suggest throwing in some blackberry leaves, I have them in my yard, they also went in to the mix. I don’t think the blackberry leaves are essential, but what the heck.

To release the essential oils I bruised the leaves, hopefully this is the last time I will be using a muddler to make a mojito, I placed them in one of my Nalewka jars. I poured in a liter of vodka. The jar went out on the sunny side of my yard. I gave it a stir and a shake once a day.

I tasted the infusion after 3 days and already it had a strong minty flavor. After a week when I tried it again I noticed some other unwanted notes started to creep in. So I quickly strained the infusion.

What I had was not bad but it lacked intensity and needed some sweetening to counteract some of the bitter notes.

Another bunch of mint, some sugar and a mortar and pestl should do the trick. Green blob of muddled mint and sugar that would usualy go into your mojito. After a day in the sun our mint blob doesn't look much better.
Another bunch of mint, some sugar and a mortar and pestl should do the trick. Green blob of muddled mint and sugar that would usualy go into your mojito. After a day in the sun our mint blob doesn't look much better.

I gathered up a bunch of mint from the yard. It was mostly spearmint ‘cause that’s what was abundant. In a mortar I ground up the leaves with 2 tbsp of caster (baker’s) sugar and left the messy gob that looked like green cat barf out in the sun for 24 hours. I ended up with a blob of mint, sugar and a little bit of greenish juice.

I wasn’t about to plop this mess into the infusion. Instead I put it into an old coffee filter and washed it over with the vodka infusion several times. By pouring the vodka over the green stuff the sugar dissolved and the juices washed into the Nalewka.

This miętówka ended up with a pleasant yellowish green color and a reasonably intense minty flavor with just a hint of sweetness.

With time it improved gaining in subtlety and refinement. After about 3 weeks a bunch of dark particulates precipitated out of the infusion. I filtered them out through my raw silt filter and I found that the overall clarity of the vodka greatly improved. Don’t know if this is a staple of the miętówka process because this is my first attempt.

Washing the mint blob with the mint vodka infusion. A lovely color, a nice, clean minty taste — perfect for a mojito. The clean mojito made with miętówka.
Washing the mint blob with the mint vodka infusion. A lovely color, a nice, clean minty taste — perfect for a mojito. The clean mojito made with miętówka.

I will, from now on, keep a bottle of miętówka in the liquor cabinet for when I want a nice clean mojito which you can prepare like this:

  • Put some ice in a tall glass,
  • add 2 shots of miętówka,
  • ½ a shot of home made key lime syrup (you can also just squeeze in a lime),
  • 1 shot of white rum. I like the Brazilian rums or even cachaça for this drink. The slightly “moonshine” flavor of these rums produced directly from cane juice brings my mojito closer to its slave roots. I this case I used Toucan rum — you can still taste the sugarcane and it has a cool bottle.
  • Mix these ingredient and fill the glass with some seltzer.
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint if you have to.

I leave that last part out. After all the purpose was to avoid the messy green stuff. It’s minty, tasty, refreshing and you don’t have to worry when you beam your most seductive smile - this mojito is clean.

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