Strawberry Basil Mojito (Red Dragon)
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Going a little old school here with Thomas Harris' novel, Red Dragon, published in 1981. If you're not familiar with Harris, you may be unknowingly familiar with his work. He is the author of the Hannibal Series which includes 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 psychiatrist who is both cultured and sophisticated with a taste for art, fine wine, classical music and (dun dun dun) human flesh. Red Dragon is my favorite in the four book series. As a side note, if you're already a super fan of these books, I highly recommend the T.V. series, Hannibal, developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is adapted from elements of Harris' lesser known novels, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, and of course, Red Dragon.
What's the Plot?
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.
Will Graham: I thought you might enjoy the challenge. Find out if you're smarter than the person I'm looking for.
Hannibal Lecter: Then, by implication, you think you're smarter than I am, since it was you who caught me.
Will Graham: No, I know I'm not smarter than you.
Hannibal Lecter: Then how did you catch me?
Will Graham: You had... disadvantages.
Hannibal Lecter: What disadvantages?
Will Graham: You're insane.
Scary or Nay? If you want to be scared and shocked at the same time, this is the book for you. Before becoming a fiction author, Harris was a crime writer. He knows his stuff. The novel is told from multiple perspectives, including the killer's. We are even given glimpses into the Tooth Fairy’s past, dishing out some backstory as to why an innocent boy grew into a monstrous killer.
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 compared to the full cup found in most recipes. This recipe 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 blender then pour mixture through 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.