How to make the perfect Mojito cocktailBy Amy Hopkins
It may be the world’s most popular cocktail, drunk in almost every country around the world regardless of rain, snow or sun, but a good Mojito can be hard to come by.
Usually despised by the bartending community for the effort needed to create it – as well as the sheer quantity ordered by patrons in one go – the Mojito is one cocktail whose simplicity is what makes it great.
Rum, sugar, lime, mint and soda is all that’s needed, built in a glass and topped with ice, but the individual elements used cause controversy with every bar having its own idea of what defines the Cuban classic.
From the type of rum used and whether mint should be muddled or clapped, to – whisper it – the use of Sprite to top the drink off, our panel this month give their opinions on what makes the mighty Mojito truly magical.
Thomas Aske, co-founder of Fluid Movement, Edmund Weil, owner of Nightjar, and Dan Priseman, partner at NOLA bar, all offer their perspectives.
We divide their advice into three separate sections: recipe for disaster, what to remember and how to impress.
Click through the following pages to see how to make the perfect Mojito cocktail.
Recipe for disaster
EW: Of course in some ways the Mojito has become a victim of its own success – much in the way that a Daiquiri or Martini is now available in any shade of colour or flavour. But the real bête noir is Sprite – It’s a sad fact that I have been served many a Mojito with Sprite in place of soda. It destroys everything that the drink should be about.
DP: I would never use crushed ice, and I never use a muddler as it is too brutal on the mint and can turn the drink bitter. Other than that I believe that the drink should be simple enough that you could make it on a beach with just a handful of ingredients, some ice and a barspoon.
What to remember
TA: Freshness of ingredients plus balance are the key to a perfect Mojito. The freshest mint picked live from the plant, freshly squeezed lime juice and a complex yet light rum such as Pampero Blanco.
EW: I have yet to meet someone who would turn their nose up at a well made classic Mojito. Its combination of fresh ingredients, length, and refreshing flavour profile make it one of the most widely appealing cocktails in existence. It’s also the type of drink that will hold memories like so many of the true classics – many people will remember their first really good Mojito as long as they live.
DP: The original Cuban method can’t really be recreated without the mint that grows there, it’s much more delicate and aromatic than what’s typically used in most bars outside of Cuba. That said, a great Mojito should be light and refreshing, delicately fragrant, and perfectly balanced so that it’s easy to drink.
How to impress
EW: This is definitely a personal thing, but for me the Mojito’s simplicity is what makes it king so this would be about selection of the very best ingredients rather than embellishment. I love aged rum and it also reduces the need for sweetening so I would go for Havana Club 7-year-old alongside the very freshest mint and juiciest Mexican limes, with just a little demerara sugar and a dash of bitters. Lime must be muddled so that all the juice and a little of the essential oils are released, but mint must be only bruised, not crushed. The whole must then be agitated enthusiastically with the end of a bar spoon to disperse the ingredients throughout the drink (amazing how often this part is neglected), then topped with really fizzy soda water.
DP: I also believe this is one of those rare drinks where you should use simple ingredients, and not try to make it overly complex: fresh lime, sugar syrup, and a clean, crisp white rum. I’d use Havana Club Silver Dry if I could get my hands on a bottle, otherwise Havana Club 3YO, Banks 5 Island or Bacardi 1909. The mint must be fresh and in perfect condition and to me it should only be lightly bruised not muddled as it is there for aroma more than flavour. I always use cubed ice, not crushed, and a few dashes of angostura bitters on top.