A little Interweb research tells me that the forerunner to the mojito was invented in the 1500s by the English pirate Richard Drake, one of Sir Francis Drake's cohorts. It seems Francis had a reputation for rowdiness at his various ports-of-call and had earned the nickname "the Dragon." So Richard called his drink "El Draque" in honor of his boss. The Dragon was made with aguardiente, an unrefined precursor to rum. When refined rum became available, the mojito as we know it was born. Leave it to our pirate ancestors to dream up great cocktails, and leave it to one of Monica Pope's joints to breathe some fire into an age-old recipe. The Blo-jito at T'afia (3701 Travis, 713-524-6922) is made with blood orange-infused vodka instead of rum. That's progress, mate. The bittersweet flavor of blood oranges, the tartness of the fruit juices and the subtle use of mint and sugar make the Blo-jito sublimely drinkable, but not overly sweet. The drinks menu at T'afia is a treasure trove of innovative cocktails. We tried them all last Friday (trust me on that), and the Blo-jito was the jewel. Vic, one of my research assistants, was ordering his fourth when someone in our group intervened. It seems Sir Vic has a reputation as well. I say, let the guy do his job.
1 1/2 ounces Charbay blood orange vodka
2 1/2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
4-5 fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon organic powdered sugar
Fill a highball glass with ice; add vodka, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice and powdered sugar; tear mint leaves into small pieces and add to the glass; transfer contents to shaker and shake vigorously; pour contents back into glass over ice; pillage; plunder.
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