Tuesday, August 17th, 2010...10:31 pm
I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always been more of a beer drinker than any other sort of alcohol. Sure, I enjoy the odd glass of wine (mostly when I’m inhaling a gooey wedge of brie – only since discovering my lactose-intolerance that’s happened with far less frequency), and once in a while I’m in the mood for sharing a bottle of sake, but beer is my go-to drink. However, when I’m in the mood for cocktails, the only one I ever really want is a mojito.
Acidic, sweet, refreshing, minty, bubbly – what’s not to like about this perfect summery drink? Sure, I’ve had a number of terribly made mojitos – bottled lime juice/cordial (and far too much of it), sugar syrup instead of granulated sugar, lazy muddling which fails to properly bruise the mint leaves and bring their full flavour out, and – worst of all – I once had a ‘mojito’ which was nothing more than a glass of Sprite with an extra squeeze of lime, topped with a sprig of mint.
Enter C – to whom I was introduced by one of my best friends in January this year – who regaled me with stories on how he once spent 5 hours straight making mojitos at a friend’s party. Sure, he’s not Cuban (he’s Spanish), and they may not be 100% authentic, but his version of mojitos sounded so good that I invited him over the next day to have a little mojito-making session in my balcony. His version uses both white and brown sugar (white masks the harshness of the rum, and brown gives you that caramel-y molasses layer to the sweetness), as well as white and dark rum. One should note, though, that the effect the white sugar has is that you don’t actually realise how strong the drinks are (one of these and I was giggling like a school girl) while drinking them, which had another friend muttering, “Jeezus – who needs Rohypnol when you’ve got these mojitos?!” Unfortunately, C must have explained the logic behind using both white and dark rum later in the night ‘cos while I know dark rum is used for its distinctive flavour, I have no clue why you don’t just substitute all the white rum with dark.
What I’ve laid out below is more a method than a recipe, the proportions really depend on the size of your glass, but I’ve given rough starting amounts and you should taste and work from there. However, when you’re planning a mojito night, factor in enough ingredients for multiple mojitos per person – these are so damn tasty you’ll never be able to stop at one. Unless you run out of ice.
soft light brown sugar
thai limes, quartered, seeds removed
mint, leaves picked
white + dark rum
sparkling mineral water (alternatively, substitute with soda water)
Add about 2 teaspoons of each type of sugar to the bottom of the glass. Squeeze about 3 wedges of lime over the sugar, then throw in the spent quarters. Fill the glass to the brim with very loosely packed mint. Muddle for 1-2 minutes until a sludgey paste is formed.
Top the glass all the way up with crushed ice, pour in equal amounts of light and dark rum until there’s about 1-2cm left to the top of the glass (in my glasses this takes slightly over a shot of each), then top up the glass with sparkling water (roughly a shot’s worth). Garnish with a slice or wedge of lime, stick a straw in, and serve.
Stir, and taste: the mojito should be refreshingly perfumed with mint, and have a hint of acidity from the lime (not so much that it makes you pucker, but you should be just about able to taste and identify it). The alcohol shouldn’t burn as you sip it – but both the dark rum and brown sugar should lend that caramel sweetness to your drink. If the balance isn’t right (these proportions are really for my glass specifically), add more of each ingredient as needed.
To refill, don’t empty your cup – just squeeze in another two wedges of lime, add another teaspoon each of white and brown sugar, top the glass up with more ice, and slosh a little more rum into your glass. Dribble in more soda water, and stir. The drunker you get, the less you’ll notice, but these mojitos get better as you build each refill over your used glass.
Yield: Serves one (at a time)