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Dear Drink: Mojito

An open letter to Matador's Mojito

MATADOR MOJITO: In all likelihood, it was first developed in Cuba. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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Dear Mojito,

What exactly are you smiling at? The fact that I forgot my wallet, or that you knocked me on my ass? Laugh it up, salad face.

OK, both facts are true.

First, I did come to a Friday afternoon meeting at the Matador in downtown Tacoma with my wallet holding down the fort back at the Weekly Volcano World Headquarters in Lakewood. Worse yet, I had to call the office to verify the blunder. No doubt, this sent a shockwave of leadership doubts through the office. It's not the best timing with newspaper attacks from the Internet, videos, DVDs, microwave ovens, Hello Kitty smartphones, talking refrigerators and little RFD chips that can implant into retinas so Silicon Valley can beam news straight into our subcortex as we drive over the Allstate Insurance Narrows Bridge. I eased the staff's fears with promises to beef up the Weekly Volcano Pinterest page.

Second, because I didn't have money, and my wife, Kate, couldn't save me for another two hours, I had to keep ordering you, Mojito, to keep avoid paying the bill/losing my prime fireplace position. Of course, the problem with that logic is - you are a strong-ass drink, Mojito. You hide behind your good looks. Your striking appearance resembles an unstrained salad in a glass. When you are well made - as you are at the Matador - your handsome concoction asks me to chew nearly as often as I sip or swallow - unless I shrug off the mint and navigate my way around the floaters with a straw. Not many other legitimate cocktails enjoy the distinction of being usefully packed with solid components. In addition to your diversion, I can't taste your 2-ounces of Cruzan rum. Therefore, I sip your simultaneously sweet, tart and smooth deliciousness; oblivious to the pirate chest you are about to drop on my head.

While waiting for Kate, and diverting my eyes from the 53 gorgeous women the Matador attracts every late Friday afternoon, I researched you, Mojito, on my phone. In all likelihood, you were first developed in Cuba with some inspiration from the early mint julep, that Southeastern American cocktail that dates back to the late 18th century. But the exact origin of you remains a mystery. I have a good idea you came from Cuba, as you were known as the "Budweiser of Cuba." You probably witnessed some great baseball, when Ernest Hemingway wasn't slobbering all over you.

And then, you got your big break, Mojito. You played a big role in the mad cocktail resurgence that arguably began in New York City in the 1980s. And, as one of summertime's most sensible drinks for all demographics, you have flowered internationally.

The Matador creates you from (Cruzan) rum, mint leaves, lime slices, simple syrup, ice and soda. The way these agents arrive in the glass varies widely from bar to bar. Matador adds simple syrup instead of bar sugar. The Tacoma bar also muddles lime slices, rather than use lime juice or even sweetened lime juice. While an eye and ear attraction, Matador prefers not to over muddle, which pays off. Speaking of paying off, mint in general is good for the digestive tract and has no bad effect on one's breath. That's good news; since Kate will have to stand fairly close to understand my explanation.

I can see I'm boring you, Mojito. Your handsome face is a blank. I can read it in your mint leaves - you think I'm as simple as your syrup. Whatever. Your 15 minutes is over. Nineteen ninety-eight is calling. You're wanted back at E.R. Rogers. Say, introduce me to your friend, Paloma. Oh, hi Kate.


Ron Swarner

Matador, 721 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.7100

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