When ICEBOX Innovative Beverage Services owner Boris Van Dyck set out to create an entry for the 2011 Wine + Food Festival Mixologist Competition using Ron Abuelo Anejo Rum, he went straight to an old favorite: the mojito. “I chose it because in theory, people know what they’re getting,” he says. “Then I made it new by adding traditional flavors of the Caribbean, where I grew up.”
When you think of tropical cocktails, frozen or fruity concoctions may come to mind, but it was actually spices such as nutmeg and clove that Van Dyck honed in on. “I developed a homemade apple cider to bring out the rich notes in the seven-year rum,” he explains. Ginger beer and brown sugar add sweet flavor to the Ginger-Apple Mojito that ultimately won over the judges, scoring it a spot as the signature cocktail of the festival’s opening night Salute to Charleston’s Chefs.
Want to recreate a bit of the Wine + Food revelry at home? It’s easy to make your own batch of spiced cider. “Purchase a good-quality cold-pressed cider, throw in the spices, and store the mixture in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The longer the spices steep, the better the cider tastes,” instructs Van Dyck. For an elegant garnish, he suggests rimming the glass with a little lime juice, brown sugar, and nutmeg. “You can also add a few apple peels and a sprig of mint.”