First in a series of Cuban-related postings.
I just returned from my fourth visit to Cuba and have mojitos on the mind (for the uninitiated, it’s pronounced “moe-hee-toe”). Cool and refreshing, balancing sweet and sour with a complement of herbaceous mint, this rum cocktail is perfect to sip while lounging in a hammock, rocking gently with the tropical breeze or to quench the thirst during a night of salsa.
Some say the name was inspired by the lime-based seasoning, mojo, used in Cuban dishes. Others believe that the name is a diminutive of “wet” in Spanish. Regardless, the mojito was made legendary at the famous La Bodeguita del Medio, a tiny restaurant in Havana, and was also known as a second-favourite tipple of Hemingway’s. I had my first sip of the cocktail at a Holguin resort in 2003; the gritty sugar crunched between my teeth and the economy rum was a bit harsh, and boy was it perfect.
The mojito is traditionally made with lime, mint, sugar, sparkling water and a good dose of Havana Club 3-year old white rum. Indiscriminating tastes can now find any number of bastardized versions from mango to strawberry. While perhaps delectable-sounding, they are as close to an authentic mojito as a saketini is to a martini. And if you’ve never tried Havana Club, you’re really missing out on something. Their Anejo Blanco rum is made with the best dark molasses from Cuban sugar cane and aged in oak barrels, giving it a fresh fruity flavour. The classic 7-year rum is world famous and noted for its butterscotch and honeycomb nose, opening up to apple crumble with the addition of water. It is initially very sweet but quickly moves to dry and woody. It’s the perfect sipping tipple and heaven’s please only enjoy it on its own.
Snobbery aside, here’s a simple recipe for the near-perfect mojito, fairly loyal to the version sanctioned by the International Bar Association:
Continue for recipe…