Though Hemingway popularized the mojito with a single backhanded compliment to his favorite Havana watering holes, declaring, “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita,” the cocktail’s origin can be traced back to the sixteenth-century el Draque, a crude blend of lime, sugar, and aguardiente, invented by pirates on expedition with Sir Francis Drake. [Editor’s Note: Aguardiente is an anise-flavored, sugarcane-based liquor that roughly translates to “firewater.” Sounds like our kind of elixir.] Eventually, the aguardiente was replaced with smooth, light-bodied rums elaborated in the late 1800s and the Mojito was cast. This recipe comes from my uncle Guillermo Tremols who learned it from Deus, a bartender at Havana’s Miramar Yacht Club.–Ana Sofía Peláez
LC What’s In A Name? Note
In the very fine collection of Cuban recipes in which we happened upon this mojito recipe, the author casually mentions that the word “mojito” is roughly translated as “little spell.” While we couldn’t verify this rumor, we quite like the notion, almost as much as we like the namesake cocktail responsible for said “little spell.” One thing we realized while testing this mojito recipe, though, is that the “proper” proportions of ingredients required to cast this spell are a very personal thing. While we gravitate toward the proportions in the recipe below, if you don’t, just tweak with additional ingredients as you deem fit, sipping and stirring as you go.
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 5 M
- Serves 1
- 12 mint leaves with stems, preferably spearmint, plus more for garnish
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar* or granulated sugar, plus more to taste
- 2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) white rum
- 2 to 3 ounces (1/4 to 1/3 cup) club soda
- 1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters (optional)
- 1. Using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, muddle the mint, lime juice, and sugar in an 8-ounce glass until the mint is gently bruised.
- 2. Stir in the rum and add some ice. Top it off with club soda. Add Angostura bitters, if using. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
*Confectioners' Sugar Note
- Lest you think the only brilliance in this recipe is the taste, you’re wrong. This recipe cleverly calls for confectioners’ sugar rather than simple syrup or granulated sugar. Because it dissolves just as readily as simple syrup and far more so than granulated sugar, this means no more stirring like crazy and still having gritty granulated sugar at the bottom of your cocktail. It also means no more waiting to take a sip of your summer cocktail until you take the time to make and chill some simple syrup. Talk about casting a little spell. (If you don’t have confectioners’ sugar and it’s one of those days when happy hour cannot come soon enough, you can use granulated sugar. You’ll still feel the magic, we promise.)
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