Prickly Pear Mojito
A deliciously easy and refreshing cocktail that can be made with only the fruit itself or with homemade prickly pear syrup. Served over ice, this prickly pear mojito is perfect for happy hour. Prickly pear (cactus pear) are round to oval fruits obtained from the cactus plants. The last time I had a cactus fruit cocktail was in Santorini several years ago. It was overpriced but totally refreshing and when I saw these prickly pears at the grocery store I knew I had to make a cocktail out of them. Mojitos are on my list of top 5 cocktails. I prefer mine without the simple syrup and just loads of fresh mint. Same goes for this mojito - I muddled fruit with the mint and it was good enough for me. But my hubby loves his sweet drinks so I made a simple syrup with the prickly pears which you could add to give some extra sweetness to this mojito. But before we get into that let me share a few things about these fab little fruits!
Prickly pears are grown predominantly in California, the Southwest, Mexico, Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean. They are refreshingly sweet fruits with loads of health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants and mineral and also high in fiber. The flesh of the Prickly Pear is a bright, magenta color, and it tastes very sweet. It tastes like something between a banana and raspberries. The flesh is studded with tons of little EDIBLE seeds, if you like them, feel free to just chop the prickly pear up and eat, seeds and all. You can enjoy the peeled fruit as is, or chop some more and blend the pieces into a juice. The juice from prickly pear can be used in many ways - to flavor frosting, added to juices, used in vinaigrettes for salads and if you simmer it down into a syrup it can be enjoyed in cocktails with club soda, lemonade, iced tea, hot tea or water. More on that below.
How to handle prickly pears?
The ones fresh off the cactus are covered with thorns. The ones you buy at the store most likely have been cleaned of the tiny hair-like thorns, but those thorns are quite tenacious and so you must handle them with care. It’s wise to use some heavy gloves or use tongs when handling them and to give them a scrub before peeling to ensure all the thorns are scrubbed off. Even after they are scrubbed I recommend not holding them directly with your hands because they tend to still have tiny thorn left on them. Once you have scrubbed them pat then dry and here is how to cut them: • Cut the ends off of the prickly pear with a knife. • Slice vertically down the middle of the fruit. Wedge your thumb or use your tongs or I like to use a spoon into the slice and grasp the edge of the thick, fleshy skin. • Peel away the skin from the fruit inside of it. Or if using spoon just spoon out the flesh from the skin. Discard the skin and enjoy the fruit.
A traditional Mojito calls for simple syrup, or a bit of sugar as a sweetener. I love the idea of incorporating and infusing more of the fruit in this cocktail so I made a really simple prickly pear syrup you can add to sweeten it but if you don’t have enough fruit for a syrup just sweeten with some agave instead. The cocktail measurements are recommendations. If you like your cocktail sweeter add more agave or syrup. Same goes for the amount of alcohol and mint. The lime infused carbonated water is optional - you can use plain carbonated water or you can even use Sprite or 7-up. I think the fruit adds a nice sweetness and makes for a more exotic mojito. If you can get your hands on some prickly pears - make sure to enjoy a few as is and muddle the rest into something sweet and refreshing like these mojitos.
Makes 1 cocktail
- Juice of one lime
- Sprig of fresh mint leaves
- 1 Tbsp agave (or prickly pear syrup-recipe below)
- 1 Prickly pear fruit
- 2 oz white rum (more to taste, or omit for a non alcoholic drink)
- Lime flavoured carbonated water
Take leaves off of the sprig of mint and muddle in the bottom of glass along with the prickly pear fruit using a muddler or the back of a spoon.
Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze the juice into the glass. Add the entire wedges in and muddle those with the mint.
Add the rum and the agave and stir well to combine.
Fill the serving glass with ice then top with carbonated water until the glass is full. Then gently stir everything without agitating the carbonated water too much.
Garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of mint leaves.
How to make the prickly pear syrup
- 1 cup prickly pear fruit chopped
- 2½ cups water
- ½ cup sugar or agave
- Add the prickly pear fruit to a small sauce pan with the water and the sugar or agave and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.
- Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. When the mixture has reduced, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Strain mixture over a bowl pressing fruit to extract all the syrup through the strainer.
- Refrigerate and use in juices and cocktails with club soda, lemonade, iced tea, hot tea or water.