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The mighty mojito. July 7, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. A mojito, the Cuban cocktail that’s light, minty-citrusy, and not too sweet, seems like the perfect refresher for hot, humid summer days. But last time I ordered one, it tasted a bit off—rather as though the bartender had topped it up with Sprite. Eeewww!!! What was really supposed to be in one, I wondered. I was determined to find out.

I also wondered when mojitos had first arrived on American shores, so I started with my oldest cocktail “cookbook,” Gordon’s Cocktail and Food Recipes, published in 1934. There was no sign of a mojito, but it did tell you how to make a mean Mule Tamer.

Fast-forwarding to 1999, when the English translation of Peter Borhmann’s The Bartender’s Guide was published, one mojito recipe (out of 1400 cocktails) was included, as follows:

                     Mojito

a few mint leaves

1/4 ounce lemon or lime juice

2 tsp. sugar syrup [aka simple syrup]

1 1/2 ounces light rum

soda water for topping up

garnish: sprig of mint

Put the mint leaves in the glass and crush them. [Mr. Bohrmann recommends using a Highball/Collins glass.] Add the lemon or lime juice and sugar syrup and stir. Add plenty of crushed ice and the rum; stir again. Top up with soda water. Put the sprig of mint into the glass.

Not in the mood to make simple syrup and wait for it to cool? My friend Dalyn Miller, in 2006’s The Daily Cocktail, offers this alternative: 

              Mojito

3 sprigs fresh mint

2 tsp. sugar

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 oz. light rum

club soda or seltzer

1 slice lemon

In a Parfait glass, crush part of the mint with a fork to coat the inside. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir thoroughly. Top with ice. Add the rum and mix. Finish with club soda. Add a lemon slice and the remaining mint, and serve.

Well, I don’t know about you, but the parfait glasses I’m familiar with have thick, scalloped rims, making drinking somewhat challenging, especially for those of us whose coordination already makes doing just about anything a challenge. (And that’s before drinking the mojito!) I’d suggest one of those tall stemmed beer glasses instead.

Quibbles and simple syrup versus plain old sugar aside, these recipes are pretty similar. So of course I wondered if there were variations on the mojito, as there are for margaritas, or if it follows the pattern of that other iconic drink made with fresh mint and simple syrup, the mint julep, where everybody claims that there’s only one correct way to make it (their way, of course), but the ingredients remain standard. Abandoning my books, I headed to my good friend Google in search of an answer.

Google sent me to the Bacardi website, where they claimed to have been making Havana-style mojitos for over a century. And sure enough, the recipe was much the same, though they recommended muddling (i.e. mashing) 12 spearmint leaves with the juice from half a lime, adding 2 tablespoons of simple syrup or 4 teaspoons of sugar, filling the glass with ice, adding 1 1/2 ounces of Bacardi white rum and 7 ounces of club soda, stirring well, and garnishing with a lime wedge and a few mint sprigs. 

Then I found the motherlode of variations at Drinks Mixer (www.drinksmixer.com): From a mojito made with Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum to an Apple Mojito, Herradura Mango Mojito, Mandarin Mojito, Pimm’s Mojito, Passionfruit Mojito, and Mojito Diablo, this site had at least 15 variations on the standard mojito. Check it out and try them if you dare! I decided to look at the recipe for the Herradura Mango Mojito, since I enjoy both Herradura tequila and mangoes. Here it is:

            Herradura Mango Mojito

1 1/2 oz Herradura silver tequila

3 fresh mint sprigs

2 tsp. sugar

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 1/2 oz. fresh mango juice

1 splash club soda

Muddle the mint leaves, sugar and lime juice in the bottom of a tall glass. Add Herradura and mango juice. Add a splash of club soda and ice cubes. Serve with a mint leaf garnish.

Hmmm. This would probably cause mojito purists to spin in their graves (tequila, not rum?!!), but it’s tempting to try it anyway. Meanwhile, if you have a favorite mojito recipe, please share it with us! 

                 ‘Til next time,

                               Silence

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