In Praise of a “Milky Mojito”

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With the mercury set to top 37C in the Barossa this weekend I am going to want something long and cool to drink and following our cooking class today “A Provencal Lunch” I couldn’t help but think of my favourite tipples from that part of the world, Pernod and Pastis.

I have been a life long fan of these (well since I started in the kitchen at 16 at least). My introduction came literally days into my apprenticeship having to prepare a long drink of Pernod, iced down with mango sorbet and topped up with lemonade for our French pastry chef. In fact this became a common almost nightly treat for the senior members of the brigade especially on hot days, that and shots of Kirsch in the middle of service for our charming Hungarian assistant Maitre D’, or Whisky, that was destined for our crepes dessert for the Sous Chef, but that’s another story.

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I’m sure the Exec Chef who was never in the kitchen after 5pm was concerned about the amount of alcohol we used as he started marking bottles, but Prawns with a Pernod cream sauce was a big seller back in 1977. Of course Pernod and its more complex cousin Pastis tend to inspire either love or hate. The common response from many Australian’s is that following teenage binges on Ouzo or Sambuca, they can’t face Aniseed. But Pastis and French Anis and are altogether different beasts…. Never ever mixed with Cola!

Now I definitely, fall into the love camp and I have great memories from the early 1980’s of being in Provence and visiting the village of Villeneuve Loubet, birthplace of the great chef Escoffier and the culinary museum dedicated to him. It was like many typical Provencal villages as I remember it, a market one midweek morning and then in the afternoon when the market packed up the outdoor tables filled with locals lazily drinking from their milky glasses, maybe it’s a romantic image but it is one that has stayed with me.

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Today, as most of those around me know, I will use these anise infusions on almost any occasion that allows me. Hence one of our more popular items in the early days of Appellation, a pineapple and Pernod sorbet was teemed with a chocolate tart (below). And so almost 40 years later there is always a bottle of either Pastis or Pernod (or possibly both) in our cupboard and I usually enjoy it as they do in  Provence mixed with chilled water 1:5 without ice, but todays heat calls for something a little longer and cooler.

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At first I am reminded of a cocktail made by a truly great bartender and friend, Matthew Williams. Over the years Matthew plied me with many amazing cocktails but his La Feuille Morte made with Henri Bardouin Pastis was always a standout. However as this relies on having both great pastis and grenadine on hand I have to defer. But after quickly consulting Diffords on-line guide I have instead, with a surfeit of fresh mint and limes from the garden, chosen to make what they call a “Milky Mojito”.

Its hardly ground breaking in concept, but supplementing Pernod for white rum gives the this drink a whole new twist, and while Cuban purists and white rum fans will doubtlessly be flabbergasted and roll their eyes it looks like I have found myself a new summertime favourite – Salut!

mixing

“Milky Mojito”

12-15 leaves                       fresh mint
1 cup                                     crushed ice
25ml                                      sugar syrup*
30ml                                      lime juice – freshly squeezed
60ml                                      Pernod
Chilled sparkling mineral water to top up glass

Method

  • Place mint in a highball or your choice of glass and muddle (bruise)
  • Fill glass to brim with crushed ice, and add sugar syrup , lime juice and Pernod
  • Top with Mineral water, stir and serve

*prepare sugar syrup in advance by boiling together ½ cup white sugar and ½ cup water until sugar dissolves, cool and store in the refrigerator in a clean jar or bottle for use in cocktails.