Everything Cuban is muy caliente right now, and mojitos are no exception. This island cocktail has been around in some form since the 16thcentury, when it was called “El Draque” in honor of the pirate Sir Francis Drake.
One theory regarding the name mojito is that it came from a Cuban seasoning with a citrus flavor known as mojo – so if you need to locate your mojo, a mojito just might help you find the way. Hemingway was a big fan, and you will be too.
The tropical mojito has the perfect 1-2-3 slap for a hot summer day: citrus, mint and alcohol. Add some sweet and some bubbly and you are ready to go with a simple and refreshing mojito!
Use organic, locally sourced produce whenever possible. Spearmint is a weed that is easy to grow for beginning gardeners, and if you live in California, you probably have a neighbor with an overloaded lime tree – so ask around!
Fresh spearmint leaves
Limes, cut into 6-8 slices each
Rum (dry white rum such as Bacardi)
1. Place two springs of spearmint and two slices of lime in each tall “highball” glass. Add one teaspoon of white sugar and one teaspoon of brown sugar.
2. Muddle it together with a muddler, pestle or other flat and long object. Crush everything together about ten times until everything is nice and mashed but not completely destroyed. The goal is to release the flavor of the fruit and leaves but not all the pungent oils.
3. Add ice and then 2 ounces of white rum per glass; stir until the sugar is almost all dissolved.
4. Fill to the top with club soda and stir lightly once again.
5. Garnish with a straw, sprig of mint and lime wheel! Now sit in the sun and relax.
You can always substitute the sugar with alternative sweeteners such as agave nectar or Stevia, however the crystal form of the sugar helps the muddling process work – it’s natural abrasiveness brings out the mint and citrus flavors. Opt for a granular sweetener if you can. If not, add a small amount of ice instead before you muddle, then add the liquid sweetener after the rum.
If you want to make a flavored mojito – like mango, pineapple or strawberry – don’t use the flavored rum, which tends to taste like kid candy instead of fruit. Choose fresh fruit puree instead – blend the flesh of your desired fruit in a blender, then add 2 teaspoons to each glass along with the rum.
To make a “Dirty Mojito,” substitute spiced rum for the white rum and use all brown sugar.
For a “Mexican Mojito,” substitute silver tequila instead of the rum.
Make a “So Cal Mojito” by using limons, a lime-lemon crossbreed, instead of limes!
Non-drinkers will still enjoy a “Nojito” – the virgin version of the drink!