50 Shots of America–Nevada

The Mojavito

The Mojavito

Now that the move is complete and the bar is fully unpacked, it’s time to return to our drinking tour of America with state number 36: Nevada (which is Spanish for snow-covered, named after the Sierra Nevada mountains).

Originally part of the Utah Territory, the predominantly non-Mormon section that is today’s Nevada broke off from their eastern brethren in March, 1861, became a state on October 31, 1864, (just squeaking in with enough time to help re-elect Lincoln as President and doing so by telegraphing their entire state constitution from Culver City to Washington, DC), and did some re-drawing of their state’s southern boundary in May, 1866, when gold was found in the then-Arizona Territory. Good thing, too, because Las Vegas, Arizona just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

And speaking of Vegas, turns out that gambling was legalized after the Great Depression as a temporary measure to help bolster the state’s flagging economy. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who suggested outlawing it would be laughed out of the state!

There’s no Last Call in Nevada, at least not by law; alcohol can be purchased at any hour of the day or night and bottles can be purchased at grocery and convenience stores as well as dedicated liquor stores (not just beer and wine like most places). Which leads us to this week’s drink.


1/2 Key Lime**, cut into 2 wedges
1 sprig Sage, stem removed
3/4 oz Gin
1 oz Club Soda

Muddle the lime and sage in the bottom of a shaker until the sage is well-mashed and fragrant. Add ice and the gin and shake like a tumbleweed crossing the plains. Strain into a chilled cordial glass and top with club soda.

Now, seeing as how Nevada is primarily dry, arid desert, a sweet drink just wouldn’t do (in alcohol, dry is the opposite of sec, or sweet). And because of the Pinyon Juniper forests in the Great Basin desert (which sounds like it would be at the bottom of the state when, actually, it encompasses much of the north and central area), I’m going with a dry gin as the base spirit. Nevada is known as the Sagebrush State so my first thought was a sage infusion but, well, that takes too long for a good mix and muddling is far quicker. Suddenly, this is sounding a lot like a Mojito (which sounds an awful lot like the Mojave desert that does occupy the southern third of the state), so that’s when the lime and club soda came over to play. The end result is a very tart, refreshing drink that would be a perfect quencher on a hot summer’s day no matter where in the world you are (well, okay, Northern hemisphere at the very least–those below the Equator save it for the warm winters).

One final bit of trivia for the day:

Ever wonder why the CSI franchise started in Vegas? It might have a little something to do with Nevada’s 5-year reign as the most dangerous state in the country (though if that were the sole reason, I think we would have had CSI: New Orleans before Miami or New York***).

*pronounced mo-ha-VEE-toe; whether you pronounce the ‘a’ as in bad (as is the correct way to pronounce Nevada) or as in father is entirely up to you

**I used key limes because they are small and this is a small drink. A single wedge (quarter) of a standard lime should be plenty. If you want a very tart lime drink with a touch of the other flavors, go ahead and use the whole Key Lime (or half a regular one).

***Turns out there was a decision to be made, just before Katrina, between a CSI: New Orleans and CSI: New York–go figure!