One fun thing about road trips is that you can stop into your favorite restaurants as you’re passing through. Cafe Rio is a chain, but we first discovered it in Salt Lake City, so eating there will always remind us of when our kids were toddlers and Michael was in residency.
Going out to eat during those four years was certainly a privilege that we didn’t enjoy too often. When we did decide to go out it was always hard to decide if we were going to have tacos from Lone Star Taqueria, pizza from The Pie, or share a salad from Cafe Rio.
When Cafe Rio was the restaurant of choice Mike would enjoy a fountain Coke while I always chose mint limeade. I’m still shocked that they generously offer free refills so that I can load up on my favorite drink while I’m eating and still take a second cup to go. Trust me, after squeezing the lime juice to make this drink at home you’ll appreciate what it takes to make this delicious and the ridiculousness of them not charging for each drop. I’m not arguing. I’m equally baffled and grateful.
I initially found this recipe on Our Best Bites. I found I didn’t need as much mint as her recipe suggested. I bought one small bunch of mint for $1.99. I had enough for the syrup and the fresh mint with that small bunch. Her recipe called for 1/2 cup of fresh mint in the pitcher, but I found that 1/4 was plenty. You really want to make sure you’re cutting it up in fine pieces because it’s not awesome to slurp up a large stringy wet mess of mint. I also cut back on the amount of water I added to the limeade so that once it was added to the ice it maintained its flavor without tasting watered down. This recipe makes 2 quarts which is 8 cups. Once it’s added to ice, I’d say you have a comfortable six servings considering you’ll want to top off a few glasses. If you’re considering making this for a BBQ you’re going to want to double or triple this recipe for sure!
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 3 sprigs of fresh mint (a “sprig” is a stem with three or more leaves attached to it, so about 10-12 leaves here is great.)
- 1 1/2 cups lime juice (about 7 limes)
- 5 cups cold water
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
- 1/3 cups sugar combined with the zest of two limes
- Fresh mint sprigs
- Fresh lime slices
- Make simple syrup! Simple syrup is usually equal parts sugar to water. It’s perfect to sweeten drinks because the sugar melts, thickens the water, and then you don’t crunch on any sugar crystals while sipping. This simple syrup is infused with mint which is extremely delicious. This can be made the day before (or a few days before) to break it up a bit. Combine sugar, water & mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and strain the mint leaves. Allow to cool at room temperature or place in the refrigerator.
- When you have pumped yourself up and have a ton of mojo, juice those limes. This is the hardest part of the recipe, but can be made easier using a juicer. I have a wooden citrus reamer which I love!
- Chop mint leaves in the bottom of the serving pitcher. Add the syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, and 5 cups of cold water. Stir, or if you’re confident in the lid to your pitcher, shake it!
- If you want to sugar your glass rims either run some water around the rims or take a wet paper towel and run it around the rim. Flip the glass over and dip into the sugar lime zest mixture.
- Pour limeade over ice and garnish with sliced limes and mint sprigs
- Makes about 2 quarts
Recipe slightly adapted from Kate Jones of Our Best Bites