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Use your excess: Mint, fennel
Many gardeners know how mint can run wild. It's easy to use up a bumper crop with a round of mojitos, Havana's gift to mixology, which require quite a lot of mint to make. As for fennel, gardeners grow it for its aesthetically pleasing sprays of yellow flowers and dill-like leaves. While fennel bulbs are versatile as a cooking ingredient, you may end up with more fennel than you can handle. Fennel's anise flavour is subtle enough that even licorice haters might enjoy this cooling, Cuban-inspired cocktail. If you want it to have a stronger anise flavour, add a half-ounce splash of pastis or absinthe when you add the rum. Call it the Full Hemingway.
1 1/2 oz. aged white rum (e.g., Havana Club Añejo 3 Años)
3 oz. fennel-lime juice* — measure is approximate; juice is chunky and can be difficult to measure exactly
3 sprigs fresh mint
1 generous tsp. white sugar, or simple syrup
club soda, to top
For the fennel-lime juice:
1 fennel bulb
fresh juice of 2 limes
1. Prepare your fennel-lime puree: Roughly chop up the big, white bulbous part of the fennel (be careful to cut out the hard stalk in the bottom-centre) and put in a blender or smoothie maker. Add the lime juice and liquefy as much as possible. It will be a little chunky.
2. To make the cocktail: Reserves the prettiest of your trio of mint sprigs to serve as the garnish later. Add the other two sprigs, with their leaves pointing downwards, to a tall glass with the sugar and a splash of water. Gently muddle (press) the leaves using a cocktail muddler or spoon; do not tear the leaves, or the mint will release a bitter flavour into the drink. Fill the glass with ice and add rum. Stir about 30 times with a stir stick or chop stick. Ice will settle downwards; add more. Add the fennel-lime juice and stir a few times again. Top up with soda and stir yet again to mix the ingredients up a little. Garnish with the reserved mint sprig and serve.
Note: For a virgin version, simply exclude the rum.