Sunday, August 12, 2012

Crafting the Freshest Mojito

Hemingway loved it, as well he should have. Imbibing this Cuban work of art can be a religious experience. 

If ever there was a drink that defined the first decade of the new millennium, hands down it would be the Mojito [pronounced moe-HEE-toe, but you probably already knew that]. Easily recognizable by its limey and minty redolence, the Mojito seemed to pounce on the bar scene in the early aughts as the tropical replacement to the 90’s très façonnable Cosmopolitan. A sigh of relief, really. It seemed time for the vodka-based Cosmo to lose its crown: by the end of the 90’s it had been bastardized to the point where some bartenders were just pouring unmeasured ingredients or prebatched concoctions into an ice-filled glass just to keep the cash register burping contentedly. The Mojito was a welcomed pinch hitter. Light rum, which had always been popular, was due for a resurgence in well-made drinks for the thirsty crowd. Fresh ingredients were a must. But as the decade dragged on, bartenders arms grew weary from muddling, and bar managers saw how long it took to make one. Those life-changing Mojitos you used to imbibe at reputable drinking establishments morphed into sugar-bomb low-rent sludge-fests. We all remember being bewitched by our first, superbly crafted Mojito. It’s high time to return to those flavors, guaranteed by proper muddling with fresh ingredients.

Because we love Mojitos, we’ve been playing around with ratios of ingredients and interpretations of methods for several years. As a result, we never published a recipe. We knew it was the right time to do so when our friend Matt Schepis texted in disbelief. “I looked on your Recipe Index for a Mojito and it wasn’t there.” Sorry, Schepis. We assured him not to worry. The recipe was on its way.

When we make Mojitos with our friends Theo and Curt, we always seem to talk about how widely varying Mojitos can be from bar to bar, party to party, and Theo decries this wide gap that separates a great Mojito—the one that changed your life—from a horrible one. We assured him that ours would be the one to bring back good memories.

(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)

2 ounces light rum
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
10 mint leaves
mint sprigs, for garnish
ice, preferably crushed or cracked*

Cut lime into wedges. Add mint leaves to shaker, followed by lime wedges, then sugar. Muddle until all the juice is released from the lime, which will dissolve the sugar. Add rum and ice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain into ice-filed highball glass. Top with soda. Garnish with lots of mint sprigs.

* On an exceptionally warm day, if you’re outdoors, you may wish to eschew crushed ice and use cubed ice. Dilution will be slower.

Pairing Suggestions
Guacamole and Chips

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