Mojito Magic

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March 10, 2010 by ritadate

Move over Margarita, I am in love with mojito. I had heard of this drink and even tried it once at a friend’s place but somehow the mango mojito made with the premix tasted artificial and did not suit the right taste buds. However, on a recent trip to Miami, I had the real thing and now there is no turning back.

El Tropico is small Cuban café in a strip mall in North Miami Beach that was right across from our hotel. Alex, the server, a handsome blonde with a thick Spanish accent made the mojitos himself. It took him nearly 10-15 minutes to make 2 drinks but we could see he was hard at work.

The first sip was amazingly refreshing and the alcohol subtlety felt. The taste and feeling of the mojito was so energizing that it was tempting to drink it like a cold glass of water on a hot day, but after a few sips, the alcohol effect began to set in and it was time to slow down.
The mojitos were extra large and being a novice, I could handle only one. The rest of the Miami holiday was spent drinking mojitos. But not all mojitos are created equal. Many had too much mint, in many the alcohol was either too much or too less. Only one or two hit the spot. Let me clarify, the Mimai trip was a weeklong work week so the days and nights were not spent drinking to oblivion but rather in lunch and dinner meetings.

We went back to Alex, our server at El Tropico to ask him his recipe of his mojito. Alex, it turned out was Russian which explains the blonde hair. I did not want to ask more questions, perhaps he was a Russian spy who had to learn Spanish in communist Cuba…ok, back to reality.

The mint in the mojito is what makes it refreshing, a drink with pudina may not sound appealing but just the right amount is used for the flavour to seep through without tasting like mint chutney. Also the mint leaves in Miami are of a slightly different variety and are mild compared to our Indian counterpart. Alex was very friendly and was glad to show us his bartending skills. First he stressed tall glasses are necessary, this is a drink that cannot be made in bulk quantity like a punch in a pitcher.

The Original Mojito has a natural, organic style. Guarapo, Cuban sugar cane juice adds a smooth, more substantial taste to the drink, giving it a fresh finish. If the drink is too bitter, squeeze in an additional lime wedge to balance the flavor.

1 lime, quartered
5-6 fresh mint leaves
Crushed Ice
2 ounces White/light rum
1 ounce simple syrup*
2 drops bitters
3 ounces Club Soda

* Simple Sugar Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Bring water and sugar to a low boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until sugar dissolves. Water will appear slightly cloudy, but will become clear as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator in a squeeze bottle or airtight container. If properly sealed, the syrup will keep up to 2 weeks. One batch will make about 12 mojitos.
Muddle lime and mint in the bottom of a tall glass. Add light rum, simple syrup, and bitters. Fill the glass to the top with ice. Top with club soda. Cover the glass with a shaker tin or transfer the mixture to a shaker and shake for 5-6 seconds. Garnish with lime wedge, mint sprig, and sugar cane swizzle stick.

Although rum gives the mojito its kick, the flavors of the mojito can be savored without the alcohol. The faux-jito shows off the mojito’s simple yet unique combination of lime, mint, sugar through a few muddles and shakes. This can also be made by the pitcher and it a refreshing and distinctive alternative to lemonade or other fruit punches. Your guests will not forget the mojito pitcher!
1 lime, cut into 3 pieces
5-6 fresh mint leaves
Ice cubes
5 ounces guarapo (sugar cane juice)
4 ounces club soda
Muddle lime and mint in the bottom of a tall glass. Fill the glass to the top with ice. Add guarapo and soda. Cover the glass with a shaker tin or transfer the mixture to a shaker and shake for 5-6 seconds. Garnish with lime wedge, mint sprig, and sugar cane swizzle stick.

I tried this recipe using our Indian fresh sugar cane juice and pudina. Our cane juice seems a bit sweeter and less sugar syrup is required. Use less mint as well as our variety of mint tastes much stronger.



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