The deal was: $5 mojitos at Zengo on Mondays. They’ve got your typical mojito – mint, mango – and more brazen ones using elixirs one does not dare describe as anything other than exotic.
Right out of the gate: I’m not a cocktail man. I can’t make a decent one to save the life of me and I don’t have a clue as to what is actually in bitters that makes it so necessary to have at a bar. I am able to keep a handful of cocktail orders in the back of my mind so I can order something when it is apparent the bar I’m at has no beer taps and only keeps Michelob or Heinekin on tap because they are trying to prove something.
Zengo is a concept restaurant that infuses their menu with influences from Latin America and the Far East – places known for their heat, humidity. Places with travel bureaus that format magazine ads with blindingly-white sand beaches and water that can’t be described as anything other than aqua. Mojito is a drink for the toes-in-the-sand days with bartenders in floral shirts and bikini’s in the dress code, places where the sun is so bright the beaches are the same color as the water as the sky.
Places where ginger’d folk like myself would erupt into flames at the mere suggestion of ultra-violet.
Today’s gentle sun sets over Confluence Park, across the street from Zengo but we aren’t quite out of the wintery-woods yet. It is one of those evenings with old accumulation Denver typically sees from being in a perpetual state of between-snowstorms. The patio furniture is still stacked, icicles hang from the tables. The park is blanched, blinding, from the field of snow pock marked with brave bicycle tracks and paw-prints.
My date and I make an effort to keep somewhat summery with our invited selections. The featured mojito on this particular Monday is the calamansi. It’s the kind of fruit that you’ve seen a million times over but have never actually tasted. Usually confused for a lime in it’s earlier stages, turning red and orange in further germination. Imagine a limey orange and you’re tasting calamansi. It is the sweet and tart over ice that you come to expect from a mojito. We enjoyed tacos with tuna and a light roll of sushi, some arepas – presented in contrast against the white span of the platter. Even though it is stew-and-stout weather, the combination works.
The ice in the glass makes it a touch too cold for a night like tonight. But after two the rum starts to warm it’s way through my system. It is March in Denver, so we are close enough to summer. Close enough to skin that is perpetually peeling from a sunburn, pretending to not stare at women in bathing attire, and to be anywhere other than a house lacking air conditioning. In other words – a few weeks from flip flops and the sugar-high from intravenous mojitos.
Zengo is featuring a different mojito every Monday. Coming recipes featuring wild ingredients like blood oranges, coconut, and tequila.