A colleague tipped us off to the Italian mojito at Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante in South Beach.
The cocktail muddles tomato instead of lime and uses basil instead of mint. It also substitutes vodka for rum. Quite simply, the term "mojito" is being used liberally here. The brand used is Stolichnaya.
Stoli doesn't exactly have roots in Roman soil, but that didn't deter bartender Katy Kirkpatrick who, with the help of Stoli's local brand manager, came up with the Italian Mojito. At the end of a long day and in need of a cocktail, we were still on the fence about this "garden in a glass" which could go either way -- fabulous or freaky.
We arrived at Sardinia at 6 p.m. -- just in time for happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday - Friday. It's then that the Italian mojito, Stoli cocktails, and well drinks are $7. Wines by the glass are also offered at the same price.
There are also food specials, like a tasting of salumi ($12); crostine misti ($8); and Castelvetrano olives ($4). A tasting of cheeses ($12) was served with rustic bread and a tart cheese spread.
Katy went to work, slicing sweet cherry tomatoes, and slightly muddling fresh basil leaves. The cocktail is made spicy with Stoli Hot, a jalapeno-infused vodka.
The result is a fresh, spicy libation. It's called a mojito, but the drink is more the very essence of a bloody mary, stripped down of the heaviness and sodium that forces you to switch to another drink for round two. This cocktail is made for a second round.
Sardinia has a host of other signature cocktails like the Basil Gimlet, made with Stoli Original, muddled lime, and basil; the Sunset Harbor Spritz, made with zonin prosecco, elderflower liqueur, cranberry liqueur, and citrus; and the White Hot Lemonade, made with Stoli Hot and house-made lemonade.
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We'll stick with the Italian mojito. It's a nearly perfect cocktail. What would bring it over the top? A fresh mozzarella cheese ball on the skewer, along with that ripe,red cherry tomato. Other than that, for $7 during happy hour, it's a cocktail you can't refuse.