Monday, July 19, 2010

The Perfect Mojito

It is HOT in the Midwest, which means that it is time for the Caribbean's favorite cocktail:  the mojito.

A mojito is, at its most basic, a rum and club soda concoction flavored with mint and lime.  Occasionally, it will contain lime juice and cane sugar or syrup.  In our travels, we have discovered that the farther south one travels, the more likely one is to get a very dry mojito, without juice or sweetener.  In Maryland, we had some delicious mojitos that were more like really sweet rum soda pop than anything else; hit the Southernmost key in the union, and a mojito is very likely to be more along the lines of a gin and tonic, with the garnishes flavoring the mix as they sit and combine. 

With much experimentation for the benefit of you, my dear reader, I believe I have come upon the Perfect Mojito.  You will need:

2 oz white rum (I prefer Ten Cane)
2 oz club soda
2 oz lime juice (look for Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime Juice)
2 oz simple syrup (Make your own:  it is a 1:1 combo of cane sugar and water.  Heat until combined and keep a jar in the fridge.)
1 lime (Key limes are best, but you can use Persian limes in a pinch, as I did above.)
2 sprigs mojito mint (Grow your own from Richters, or use spearmint if you must.)

In a rocks glass, muddle the lime (cut in half and retain a slice for garnish) and one sprig of the mojito mint.  You  need to muddle, or crush, these elements to release the oils from the lime skin and the flavor of the mint.  Mojito mint, as I have mentioned, is a more robust, less sweet Cuban mint that gives a more authentic flavor.

Add the rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and club soda, and mix.  Garnish with the remaining lime wedge and sprig of mint.

Enjoy, and dream of the tropics!

The Analysis

Fast:  If you have all your inputs in one place, you should be able to mix this pretty quickly.  If you need to make mojitos for a party, cut your limes ahead of time and keep your mint sprigs in a glass of water.  Mix the club soda, lime juice, and simple syrup ahead of time in a pitcher, then add the rum individually to the cocktails.

Cheap:  Um, no.  A bottle of Ten Cane is north of $35.00 around here, and this is before you buy the premium lime juice and start growing your own mint.  The cocktail above is easily $3-4 in ingredients, which is about half the price for which you can get them in local restaurants and is far less than the $10-12 for a mojito in Key West, which is usually made with far-cheaper Bacardi or Mount Gay rum.  There is, however, that beach element that makes it worthwhile.  However, for those of us trapped north of Cayo Hueso, I am not going to recommend any but the finest mojito I know how to mix!

Good:  Yes.  Oh, yes.

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