MINT TO BE Mojito Bar And Bites marks the first of its kind for Savannah’s Historic District.
The newly renovated space is quaint and full of color; it sits in the heart of downtown in what once served as a wine shop. The colorfully painted walls and neon lights that adorn the State Street bar and restaurant make you feel as though you have been transported to South America.
The design was created by a Peruvian designer to make patrons feel as if they are on a vacation — from their Savannah vacation.
This very first local mojito joint is the child of Mary Githens, who also owns Latin Chicks Restaurant. The previous business owner that occupied the bar’s building was a longtime customer of Latin Chicks, and with lots of persistence persuaded Githens to start this new venture.
Beyond authentic and meticulously crafted drinks, guests will receive expertly crafted Latin fare.
“I own Latin Chicks so a lot of this came from Latin Chicks,” Githens says of their partnership. “He had the space, and he started with retail, then wine imported from Georgia, and then jewelry. The story was he was a customer at Latin Chicks.”
Considering the current state of affairs, Mint to Be is the ideal downtown spot to drop in and get a to-go mojito, or a refreshing traditional Latin cocktail.
The glasses are biodegradable, adding a green element to an already green drink. You can take them to go and not feel bad about the use of plastic.
For me, The Original Latin Chicks Mojito is the bedrock of the menu. It is painstakingly muddled by hand with enough mint to fill a garden. Each sip is slightly sweet due to a dash of simple syrup and pleasantly tart from fresh squeezed lime.
A surprise treat for each mojito is an adornment of fresh chunked sugarcane. It can be chewed on throughout or after consumption of the cocktail.
There are slight variations available to any mojito: Strawberry, Pineapple, Passion Fruit, and Coconut. The Coconut Mojito was an instant hit because the coconut adds a creamy touch to the puckering drink.
Drinkers can even request their fresh muddled mojito to be made with top shelf rum. Occasionally the team runs mojito specials and features flavors like fresh summer watermelon, whole cherries, or vibrant blueberries.
The Sangria is made fresh in house, as to be expected, but I do not know the secret combination that makes it so great.
The more classic side of the drink offerings include the Caipirinha, the Pisco Sour, a Cuba Libre, and the Chicano de Pisco.
The Pisco Sour is the national cocktail of Peru. It is made with hand squeezed lemon, egg white, simple syrup, and Pisco. For those who have never tasted it, Pisco is an amber colored brandy produced in Chile or Peru.
The flavor combinations within the Pisco Sour result in warm herbal notes and a backing of a bitter kick. Your tongue is coated with the creaminess of the frothy egg white, which acts to balance the forward flavored drink.
A similar variation is the Chilcano de Pisco, another traditional Peruvian cocktail. This version features ginger beer, pisco, and fresh lime juice. Refreshing and punchy ginger balance the layered flavors of the featured liquor: pisco.
My favorite drink of all the traditional options must be mentioned. The Caipirinha is a libation that comes from Brazil and is said to be its national cocktail.
Creating it is simple: good Brazilian rum, sugar, and lime. The resulting flavors are not simple, however, and this drink will quickly rise to the top of your short list of favorites after sampling one.
Drinks are not the only thing offered to regular patrons or curious passersbys. An edible treat I feel should be placed front and center is Mint To Be’s Alfores—a South American confection that is created with shortbread.
The delicate cookies encase a sticky sweet dulce de leche. The buttery cookie melts away on your tongue leaving a mouth full of caramel creme.
The empanadas have received rave reviews and for good reason. The flaky folded pastry is served Argententian style with chicken, beef, or spinach and feta. They are each homemade and are never frozen or bought premade.
“We also have arepas. Arepas are Venesuelan. They are new here. We don’t have them at Latin Chicks. They are Venesuelan tortillas but stuffed and they are made out of corn flour that is stuffed. We have chicken with avocado or pork or cheese,” explains Githens.
El Cuban Sandwich is the showstopper and offers hungry guests more than just a bite of food. Layers of succulent pork, briny pickles, and sharp mustard fill the sandwich that is pressed into submission resulting in a crispy shell. It comes with a side of sweet plantain chips.
Githens talks more about the menu.
“We have vegetarian options and vegan options. So the tamales, we have vegan tamales. We have vegetarian empanadas with cheese and spinach, as well as arepas. We are bringing on another dish from Peru that is also vegan. It is a potato with Peruvian pepper sauce and vegan mayonnaise.”
To comply with current orders and aid in customer safety, Mint To Be is maintaining social distancing and encouraging to-go orders. Please support a new local business, but be sure to wear a mask.