When I first moved to England, I was living with my boyfriend in Archway. A yet-to-be-gentrified part of North London. The house he had bought had been occupied by squatters – who had roundly trashed it when we had forced their eviction. Renovation was left to me and I was on first name terms with most of the local Irish Artisans, who had made Archway their stronghold.
I had fewer verbal filters in those days and any slackers would be tracked down to their favourite pub. Got to be that I would walk in and half of the drinkers would stand up smiling nervously, and offer to buy me a pint. Only to have one of their number hauled out by his ear to finish the carpentry, electrical work, shingling, plumbing etc he had guaranteed would be done by the weekend. Paul was a copywriter and worked all hours, and socialised (for business he said) the rest. Winter was cold and draughty in the half-renovated house. As was summer. And I was pretty miserable.
Enter Edward Clarke, a lifelong pal and excellent person who would come visit to cheer me up. I would blend up a huge jug of strong Pina Coladas (not idea how that started) which we would down whilst waiting for whatever stew to heat for dinner, swapping stories of UK-life hardship. By the third glass we would be singing along to Morrisey’s “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” … having a whale of a time. Then one of us would ask … “shall we make another batch”.
There is a lot of pineapple around Cape Town at the moment – Queens apparently. And they reminded me of the good old days. I whipped up a batch of Pina Colada using frozen fresh pineapple and a juice blend, but it was a little too sweet for my middle aged taste. Plus the Nans slurped up the frozen coconutty mix (before the Rum was added) and I had none left for a picture. Last night I needed a pick me up and decided on a mojito. I juiced the remaining pineapple as the bottle stuff didn’t do it for me. And it made all the difference. The result was sweet, tart, strong, fresh and a touch acid. A bit like me and Eddie, really. Cheers Hedgie – this one’s for you.
1 pineapple – juiced, or a big glass of bought fresh pineapple juice
a few chunks of cut pineapple, all the spiky outside bits pared off
2 limes, each cut into 4 wedges, divided
1/2 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
3 good measures of light rum
Club soda (for serving)
- Muddle 4 pieces of pineapple, 6 lime wedges and 1 a big handful of mint leaves in a cocktail shaker until lightly crushed
- Cover and shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds.
- Pour a couple of inches of soda water into the bottom of a highball/long glass (I had taken all of ours to McGregor so had to use a big wine glass, but it didn’t affect the taste) – do this before you pour in the mix, or your drink will fizz up like a childhood volcano experiment and you’ll waste a few precious ounces.
- Strain the mix through the cocktail shaker into the glass
- Garnish with a lime wedge or mint leaves and add crushed chunks of pineapple but only if you have a straw. If you don’t have one, they bump against your nose while you are drinking.
Keep the rest in the cocktail shaker until required as a refill. Then eat the muddled fruit.