We went over our friends' house for a BBQ the other night, and it was Mojito Night! A Mojito is traditionally made of five ingredients: spearmint, rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane juice), lime, and carbonated water. Its combination of sweetness and refreshing citrus and spearmint flavors are intended to mask the potent kick of the rum, and have made this clear cocktail a popular summer drink.
- Fresh mint (if you're going to be making them for a lot of people, get a lot of mint. This is the foundation for the Mojito) If available, use outdoor grown mint that is as woody as possible rather than the quickly grown supermarket varieties. This will add to the authentic nature of the mojito and delivers a better overall flavor. If possible, use spearmint rather than peppermint, since this has a flavour closer to the endemic mint (yerba buena) of Cuba. Many mojito aficionados grow spearmint in gardens or pots just to use for making drinks. But peppermint works okay, too.
- Limes (at least one for each drink)
- Clear rum (Havana Club 3 yr is the Cuban rum of choice for the drink, but if you cannot get it then Bacardi Superior Light, Captain Morgan's Silver Edition or Oronoco are good substitutes, a golden rum such as Mount Gay or Flor de Cana is a great way to serve as top shelf. Cubans are also very much fond of using Matusalem for mojitos.)
- Club Soda (we have had it with Squirt or Sprite, which tasted good too).
- Pure granulated sugar, simple syrup (sugar/water mixture - see below), or guarapo (sugar cane juice), you can use mascabado sugar too, but it'll turn the drink a bit darker, thus affecting the presentation. Using Palm Sugar instead of cane makes a nice flavour too. Chad grows sugar cane and then we cut it up into pieces and put it in the juicer. In my opinion, sugar cane juice makes the best Mojito. Very cool, and very authentic, but let's face it--it's not very practical for most of us.
- Start by making some simple syrup. To do this, put equal parts sugar and water into a pot and cook it on high (stirring the whole time) until it dissolves together(you do not want it boiling!). You can also use granulated sugar but just make sure that it is well dissolved before serving. There is nothing worse than a crunchy mojito! Alternatively, forego the simple syrup and use guarapo (sugar cane juice) instead for a more natural and less sweet flavor. Sugar cane juice is my preference.
- Make sure you have a good muddler, a sturdy glass and a shaking tin for muddling and mixing the drink. The cocktail's success depends on the blending of the lime and mint flavors. You can use a mortor and pestle. If no muddler is available, the back of a spoon can substitute.
- Purchase a good light rum. You will also need fresh limes, mint, soda water and sugar. Brown sugar or simple syrup can be substituted for refined sugar.
- Cut the limes into quarters and pick the mint leaves off of the stems. For eight mojitos you will need a generous bowl of mint and eight limes-one per drink.
- Muddle a generous bunch of mint and about three lime wedges in the bottom of a tall mojito glass, cocktail shaker, or a mixing receptacle. If using granulated sugar, also muddle the sugar with the mint and lime to extract the lime's essential oils. When the ingredients are well pulverized, add ice to fill the glass. Use ice cubes and not crushed ice. This keeps the true mojito flavor from being diluted as the ice melts.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of your simple syrup-this is equivalent to 1 oz.
- Fill the glass with about 2 ounces of rum-with the ice, the glass should appear about 3/4 of the way full.
- Shake or stir the mixture until fully blended.
- Fill the remainder of the pint glass with soda water. Another option is to transfer the shaken cocktail to another glass to serve since the muddled lime and mint often stick in the bottom of the glass.
- Garnish with a lime wedge, a mint sprig, a sugar cane swizzle stick, or all three.