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   This has definitely been el Verano del Mojito (the summer of the mojito) for me. I'd never been a fan of the drink before, but for some reason this year the cocktail has taken a hold of me. Hardly a week has gone by that I haven't had at least one mojito. (It is usually quite a few more than one.) I even started to make the drink at home, and after much trial and error, have gotten the deceptively easy cocktail down. Even my wife, who hardly ever drinks, says it's pretty good.

  As I wrote last week, the minty cocktail has enjoyed quite a surge in popularity in Japan this summer. My suspicion is that the trend can most likely be traced back to a boardroom meeting at the Bacardi headquarters. Their drive to push more Bacardi onto unsuspecting consumers has surely succeeded beyond their wildest imagination. So popular is the mojito today that spearmint has become a scarce commodity. Before ordering the cocktail, I always ask, "Can you make a mojito today?" The waiter will usually run back to the kitchen to check whether they still have the mint. More often than not, I learn, they do not.

   Anyways, a few weeks ago Shûsuke mentioned that he hadn't been to the beach yet. 

   "An outrage!" I replied. "When's your next day off?"


   "Let's go to the beach, then."


   "Yes, really!"

   So, when Tuesday came, Shûsuke popped by my place and the two of us went to Momochi Hama. It isn't my favorite beach, but it's close (I can walk there in 20 minutes) and there's a decent restaurant call Mama Mia, of all things, which has awamori and fairly decent cocktails, including el mojito. 

   Incidentally, it was the very mojito that was on my mind when I extended the invitation to Shûsuke. I was Johnsing for one ever since I had been to Mama Mia a week earlier and had drunk the restaurant dry of spearmint.

   Well, when we got to Momochi, Mama Mia was closed. Naturally. The slackers that run the place have got the worst work ethic. Across the boardwalk, another restaurant called The Beach was open for business. It's a smart operation with nice tables and parasols on the terrace, cute college co-eds waiting on tables, and truly awful food.

    Shûsuke and I sat down at a table on the terrace and ordered our drinks, two unremarkable G&Ts. No sooner than our drinks were served than a boat that crosses Hakata Bay once every hour or so arrived.

   I suggested jumping on the boat and going to Luigans, a resort hotel on Umi-no-naka-Michi, a narrow isthmus that stretches from the eastern suburbs of Fukuoka to an island called Shikanoshima. He was up for it, so we downed the drinks and skedaddled.

   The trip from Momochi Hama to Umi-no-naka-Michi took about twenty minutes and dropped us off just a short walk from Luigans where we found seats at a poolside bar. 

   Looking over the menu, I was heartened to find "Mojito Original" and ordered one for the each of us. Unfortunately, what came was a far cry from the mojito I had been hoping for. The VK Mojito Original, produced by the UK-based Global Brands, is a ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail. According to the company, the "VK Mojito is an award-winning brand, and was recognised by the Drinks International Pre Mixed Drinks Challenge." Well, it wasn't a winner with me. 

VK Mojito Original

4% Alc/Vol

Rate: ★★ (I'm feeling generous, today)

   Frustrated, I asked the waiter whether the bar was open. Hearing that it was, I asked if they could make a proper mojito. The waiter said he'd go and ask. When he returned a few minutes, he replied in the affirmative, so Shûsuke and I ordered two. 

   As I suspected, the bartender knew how to make a cocktail. Not only did it look great, but it tasted pretty damn good, too. 

   Next, I ordered a Mai Tai, another drink which I had been Johnsing for ever since Hau Nalu, a Hawaiian restaurant and bar in my neighborhood, closed a few months earlier.

   Another winner.

   All in all, I was impressed with Luigans and come next summer I will be making the trip more often. In addition to great drinks, they've also got barbecues for rent, as well as movies shown on an outdoor screen. Depending on availability, rooms can sometimes be rented for six hours during the day, providing a place to relax and clean up after sunning on the beach or next to the pool.


Luigans Resort & Spa

Rate: ★★★★

   After Luigans, Shûsuke and I caught a train and traveled to JR Hakata City, where we had a light dinner and more drinks at Mexican Cantina El Borracho, easily Japan's best place for authentic Mexican food and drinks. All in all, it was a great day. Thanks, Shûsuke!


El Borracho/La Borracha (three locations in Fukuoka city)

Rate: ★★★★★

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