It’s hard to beat the refreshing quality of a minty, bubbly and boozy Mojito. This classic Cuban highball has been charming drinkers for decades, now, and is prime for reinterpretations, tweaks and other alterations. The Kew Garden is one such approach. Bartending icon and co-founder of bars like PDT in New York City and Takibi in Portland, Oregon, Jim Meehan developed the drink in homage to Banks 5-Island rum, the spirit’s namesake and the namesake’s co-creation of one of England’s famed botanical gardens.
Banks 5-Island rum is named for the legendary British botanist Joseph Banks. Banks was an advisor to King George III in the later part of the 18th century, and accompanied the famous English sailor James Cook on his 1768 voyage across the Pacific to what would one day be named Australia and New Zealand. Later, Banks advised King George III on the creation of the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, for which the drink is named. “This floral, savory Mojito variation was inspired by the royal botanical garden that Joseph Banks curated as an advisor to King George III,” says Meehan.
Meehan developed the Kew Garden in 2010, coinciding with the release of Banks 5-Island. He says that while you could swap out the rum for another white rum, you’ll lose the connection to the names. The other element that connects it to the eponymous gardens is the addition of cucumber and St-Germain. Cucumber works beautifully in a drink like this, adding vegetal crispness and savoriness that makes it even more refreshing, like a cucumber water drink. Similarly, swapping some of the usual sugar for the sweet elderflower liqueur St-Germain adds a lovely floral element. Sipping the Kew Garden, you can almost feel yourself transported to a beautiful garden setting. It may even replace the original Mojito recipe as your favorite version of the drink.
- 8 mint leaves
- 3 cucumber slices
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces Banks 5-Island rum
- 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce St-Germain liqueur
- Club soda, chilled, to top
- Garnish: mint sprig
- Garnish: cucumber slice
In a shaker, muddle the mint leaves, cucumber slices and simple syrup.
Add the Banks 5-Island rum, lime juice and St-Germain, fill with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice.
Top with the club soda.
Garnish with a mint sprig poked through a cucumber slice.