J. M. White
Strawberry Basil Mojito (Red Dragon)
The Takeaway: Red Dragon gives a whole new meaning to the "Tooth Fairy."
Going a little old school here with Thomas Harris' 1981 novel Red Dragon. If you're not familiar with Harris, you may be unknowingly familiar with his work. He is the author of the Hannibal series, including the famous, or rather infamous, Silence of the Lambs, adapted into an Academy Award winning film in 1991.
Harris is the creator of the notorious Hannibal Lecter, who is perhaps one of the scariest characters ever thought up. Lecter is a cultured and sophisticated psychiatrist with a taste for art, fine wine, classical music, and human flesh. Red Dragon is my favorite in the four-book series. As a side note, if you are already a super fan of these books, I highly recommend the T.V. series, Hannibal. The series is adapted from Harris's lesser-known novels, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, and Red Dragon.
Detective Will Graham investigates a string of murders committed by a man the media has dubbed the Tooth Fairy. To catch the Tooth Fairy, Graham must look inside the killer's mind. Doing so, he elicits help from the brilliant Dr. Hannibal Lecter who provides intimate insight into how a madman thinks.
Hannibal Lecter: Then how did you catch me?
Will Graham: You had... disadvantages.
Hannibal Lecter: What disadvantages?
Will Graham: You're insane.
With the word 'red' in the title, I knew I had to pair this novel with a red-colored drink. Thus was born this refreshing Strawberry Basil Mojito. Making the strawberry simple syrup takes some time, but it's easy to throw together and definitely worth the wait.
I try to use natural fruit flavors in my cocktails and cut back on processed sugar whenever I can. The simple syrup contains only a ¼ cup of sugar than the full cup found in most recipes. It yields two drinks. Ideal for sharing with a friend or, just maybe, treating yourself to another glass on a hot summer day.
Strawberry Basil Mojito
Yield: 2 servings
Total time: 15 minutes
For the Mojito:
2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
8 basil leaves (more for garnish)
¼ cup white rum
½ cup strawberry simple syrup (see below)
½ cup seltzer
Sliced strawberries for garnish
For the Strawberry Simple Syrup:
10 strawberries sliced
¼ cup sugar
2 cups water
Combine water, sugar, and sliced strawberries in a pot and bring to a boil.
Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and let stand at room temperature until cool.
Run syrup through a blender then pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove solids.
Combine the lemon juice and basil in a cocktail shaker. Muddle using the handle of a wooden spoon.
Add ice to the shaker. Top with rum and simply syrup. Shake thoroughly then divide mixture evenly between two glasses.
Top each glass with seltzer water and garnish with sliced strawberries and basil if desired.