Three things are absolutely true about the mojito: it’s undeniably refreshing; always contains the same five ingredients, and requires a muddler and a bit more effort than many other cocktails. Right? Not necessarily. While there is no denying that this Cuban favorite is delectable, making one need not be labor-intensive, nor do the final products always have to taste exactly the same. Get the most out of the mojito, with these simple, standard and special takes.
PURISTA Mojito Premium Cocktail Mix
Making mojitos from scratch can be a headache for the host of a large party. But a bottle of rum, some club soda and this all-natural blend of Key lime juice, organic sugar cane juice, fresh mint leaves and filtered water keeps thirsty guests mamboing all evening. “For the home bartender, PURISTA Mojito delivers not only the best ingredients, but also the perfect balance to make great mojitos in seconds instead of minutes,” touts creator and veteran bartender Michael Hensel. Each 750 mL bottle makes seventeen mojitos, which taste great even without the rum.
Cuba Libre Traditional Mojito
Mojito lovers often cite muddling the mint as the technique that makes the tipple. While extracting essential oil from the leaves adds to the drink’s signature flavor, it also takes time. So is it necessary? The folks at Cuba Libre, whose Philadelphia location alone mixes up 75,000 traditional mojitos per year, say no. Bartenders simply tear six Hierba Buena leaves—similar to mint but more authentic—shake them with ice, lime juice, sugar cane juice and rum, and top off the drink with club soda. The technique quickly and easily extracts flavor, and also prevents the bitterness that can result from overuse of the muddler.
Courtesy of Cuba Libre, Philadelphia, PA
1 ¼ oz. Cuba Libre white rum (or any white rum)
2 ½ oz. guarapo (Cuba Libre presses sugar cane to extract the juice called guarapo. Home bartenders can substitute simple syrup, though the amount will be closer to 1 oz.)
1 ¼ oz. lime juice
6 Hierba Buena leaves (or regular mint)
Lime wedge (for garnish)
Fill a cocktail shake halfway with ice. Tear mint leaves in half, and add to shaker with rum, simple syrup and lime juice. Shake vigorously. Pour into tall, narrow glass. Top with club soda, and garnish with a lime wedge.
If you are seeking a new mojito experience (or just happen to be fresh out of club soda), try the Mojito Italiano, which gets its fizz from Prosecco. Created by Arturo Sighinolfi, Director of Development and Mixology at SWS Miami, appealing bitter Campari rounds out the drink’s sweet, sour and minty notes. Sighinolfi’s background gave him the inspiration for this Italian spin on a Cuban favorite. “I spent part of my youth in Italy and, with a strong Italian heritage in my background, became fascinated with the concept of the aperitivo and its role in Italian culture.”
Courtesy of Arturo Sighinolfi, SWS, Miami, FL
½ ounce Campari
1 ½ ounces Flor de Cana Rum
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
1 ounce Prosecco
3 mint sprigs
Muddle mint, simple syrup and lemon juice. Add Campari and rum, shake and pour. Top with Prosecco, and garnish with mint sprigs.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website, www.trywine.net.