This past long weekend we were invited to our neighbor's house for a 4th of July BBQ, and my wife knew instantly what we were bringing-Mojitos.
It's a favorite drink of ours, as I'm a huge fan of white rum and mint, and a former neighbor of ours introduced us to the magic of mojitos around 3.5 years ago(using mint from their garden). We carried on this tradition of using our own mint in our drinks by making sure we had mint available to us at every house/apartment we've lived in since.
If you're not aware of the magical tonic that is a mojito, it is white rum with mint syrup, lime juice and topped off with club soda. So, after my wife made her homemade mint syrup(fresh mint from the front yard), we had plenty of club soda left over. What was I to do? I'll tell you what I did, I decided to make some homemade soda in the most simple of fashions-I made a syrup to add to the club soda for deliciousness.
I got out our quart saucepan, and put in 2 cups of water, 2 cups of white sugar, 1/2 cup of cane sugar, and combined them in the pan. Next, I needed flavor, so before I turned the water on I looked around the house-there was a rind from a tangerine that my lovely wife had eaten as a quick and nutritious snack on her way out the door, and as if by serendipity my still 2 year-old waltzed in the kitchen and asked for an "orange". She hates the skins/rinds of all fruits, so it gave me more raw material to work with.
So, I ended up having the rinds of two tangerines, and tossed those into the pan with the water and sugar. I turned the heat to medium-high, and began using a spoon to alternate between stirring the sugar and pressing the tangerine rinds against the bottom and sides of the pan to help get the oils out. After bringing the water to a boil, I reduced the mix to low heat and continued to stir and spoon-press the rinds. I tasted a bit of the batch, and noticed it was lacking a little in flavor. Since I was already working with citrus, and didn't want to peel another tangerine that wasn't going to be immediately eaten, I grabbed our bottle of lemon juice from the refrigerator, added a tablespoon and stirred it in a bit more. It turned out really well-slight hint of tangerine with a bit of sour bite, and super sweet.
I skimmed the tangerine rinds from the top of the pan and put them in 2 mason jars(this produced about 24 ounces of syrup). You might get a stronger flavor of tnagerine if you leave it in the syrup jars, but I didn't want to bother with fishing rinds out of any glasses-better to garnish with a fresh slice of citrus.
I played the waiting game to allow time to cool, poured the syrup into two small glasses for the girls, topped it off with club soda, and took a little sip. Quite tasty, although a bit too sweet for my liking. There ratio was about 1/3 syrup to 2/3 soda, so I made myself a glass that was about 1/4-1/5 syrup and the rest soda, turned out alot better, had more of the sour I was looking for.
The next time I work with a syrup base, I'm going to make sure to work with more fruit rinds to get a stronger flavor, but for a good, quick(about 15-20 minutes total prep and cook time, not including the cooling) sweet/sour treat, it hit the spot on one of these gloriously hot, summer days.