Perfect Summer Cocktail

Words by PUNCH Staff

Photos by Paulette Phlipot

At Vault 164 Restaurant and Bar in San Mateo, warm weather calls for mojitos. Although owner Brad Goldberg and his staff will happily mix customers a Martini or Tom Collins, they also feature a rotating menu of signature drinks.

That mix of old and new is reflected all over Vault 164, which takes its name from its building’s original inhabitant, the historic Crocker Bank. After walking through the original circa-1925 doors, diners are greeted by a host stand crafted from an old safe, but plush red booths and colorful wall hangings update the space for its new life as a local hotspot.

The team behind Vault 164 tries to keep the cocktail menu updated, both to give regulars something new and to utilize local produce, and a Vault 164-spin on a mojito often makes the cut. “It’s a commonly ordered drink,” manager Rick Axelrod explains. “We like to cater to people’s taste, while keeping the menu seasonal.”

One of their favorite variations on the classic Cuban cocktail is made with kiwi, and it’s so perfect for the season that they even named the drink “It’s a Cool Summer.” Instead of asking you to rummage around in the liquor cabinet for flavored liqueurs or obscure bitters, the drink gets its flavor from a generous helping of fresh fruit and herbs. No need to strain out the kiwi’s dark seeds—they give the drink a fun, almost polka-dotted appearance.

make it


  • ½ ounce agave nectar
  • ½ lime, quartered
  • ½ fresh kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 sprig
  • 2 ounces Cruzan citrus rum
  • Soda water
  • Lemon-lime soda


1. Fill a tall glass ¾ full of ice. In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, combine the agave, lime quarters, mint leaves and kiwi slices. Muddle to release the juice from the lime and kiwi.

2. Add the rum and the ice from the glass to the muddled mixture and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds.

3. Pour everything, including the ice and fruit, from the shaker into the chilled glass.

4. Top off the glass with equal parts of each soda; garnish with the mint sprig.