Monday, September 7

Drink Spotlight: Mojito

Sorry for the brief lack of posts, Sept. 3rd was my birthday and I took a little trip back to the alma mater to celebrate. So I think I'll start back up with my first drink post!

There's a lot more to making a good drink than looking in a book or searching the internet. Sure, you can do that. But you'll often end up with almost as many different recipes as you have sources. Not only that, in even the most sacred of drink sources, some drinks just don't work as originally conceived, either because modern tastes have evolved, or because, let's face it, nobody bats 1,000.

With that in mind, I give you the Drink Spotlight. These posts represent drinks that I've tested and tuned, in most cases using the utmost care to preserve the wealth of historical information and, most importantly, to bring you an accurate and delicious drink. Up first, the Mojito.

Having experienced an explosion in popularity ever since James Bond ordered one in the otherwise unremarkable Die Another Day (and note, I LOVE 007, but Pierce Brosnan was a pretty average James Bond, aside from Goldeneye), the Mojito actually has a lot of history to it. On one hand, the combination of sugar, lime juice and rum is nearly as old as rum itself, but it was really Ernest Hemmingway who popularized the drink.

The Mojito:
  • 2 oz. white rum (typically Bacardi)
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • mint leaves
In a Collins glass (10-12 oz.), muddle six to eight mint leaves in the simple syrup. Add the lime juice and rum, and top with crushed ice. Stir to combine and top with club soda. Garnish with lime wedge and a freshly spanked mint sprig.

More than a few notes. Muddling is something of a lost art. The Bacardi company has done a lot for this drink. Bacardi is now located in Puerto Rico, but prior to the U.S. embargo, Bacardi Rum was made in Cuba. As a result, when you want a light Cuban rum, you can't really do any better (at least, not in the U.S.) than Bacardi Superior white rum. But despite all that Bacardi has done for the Mojito, they released a commercial with a bartender, ostensibly a professional, making a Mojito in time with the music.


Mint is a plant. And, like all plants that are green, mint has chlorophyll in it. This magical chemical, the one that makes photosynthesis possible, is an incredible invention of nature. It is not, however, pleasant tasting. It is bitter.

When you muddle mint, do it ever so gently. Press the mint into the simple syrup. If you grind it like that guy in the Bacardi commercial, you'll end up with a drink that tastes strongly of mint, true, but also has a very unpleasant bitter component to it. In actuality, all you have to do to release the mint's aroma is clap it between your hands or rub it between your fingers.

Also, simple syrup. You can just use sugar, and in a few cases, it's correct to do so, but sugar doesn't dissolve well in either cold liquids or alcohol, both of which are typically involved in making a drink. But luckily for us, simple syrup is, for lack of a better term, simple to make. Take equal parts sugar and water, make the water hot and stir in the sugar until it's clear. If you make it 2:1, you have rich simple syrup. If there is one product that will be used the most in your bar, it is simple syrup, and it's so much cheaper to make yourself than to buy it at a liquor store or wherever. You can use whatever sugar you want, from Demarara to raw sugar to plain old white, granulated sugar.

Ice is a very interesting topic that I don't think gets enough press (I mean, it IS just ice, but it's a big part of any drink you make), and I'll do an ice post sometime, but for now, know that crushed ice is very, very important to this drink, as it is to most tropical or Tiki drinks.

And fresh lime juice. Use the stuff in the bottle if you absolutely must, but just remember this axiom: garbage in, garbage out.

When made properly, this drink is sweet, sour, with a hint of mint, and is extremely refreshing. It will take you a few minutes to make it properly. If you're ordering it at a bar, be careful. If they are busy, your drink won't get the love that it needs to even be decent. And if they reach for the sour mix, just leave. Nothing good will come of it.

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