I am in love, again. For a really long time, something like thirty-plus years, I have been faithful to just one but on vacation, I strayed and found myself immersed in a totally new relationship. As many of you may know, I am a bourbon man and even in the hottest months of summer have I not ever been tempted to sway or even be teased with a lust of another, booze that is. But I could not help myself. I got all caught up in the moment; hot and tired from a long day of doing absolutely nothing, I found myself saying the words, “I’ll have a mojito, the original version please.”
As for a perfect rum to use in this recipe, I think the best match for this Cuban drink would be a Cuban rum like Havana Club, but it’s not available in the US. My picks off the shelf are Myers Platinum, Flor de Cana, 10 Cane and Cruzan Light; all are about the most decent for mojitos. As told, always use a light rum, never dark. Now, the recipe is based on the way I observed the bartender making it and I asked of the simple syrup he used to sweeten and offset the acidic bitterness of the limes which makes a mojito such a classic. He explained the syrup was an infused sugar water using the mint leaves. The infused water along with the bruised leaves makes what I think is the best mojito out there. And this is coming from the locale where mojito is the king of cocktails – in Hemmingway’s back yard of Key West. Enjoy!
My Mojito Recipe, Key West Style
for each cocktail
2 ounces light rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounces mint infused sugar water
Top with a splash, really just a splash, of club soda and a lime twist
Use a highball glass. Add 3 or 4 mint leaves, a good pinch of sugar (this helps to brighten the mint flavor and release the mint oil as you muddle) and muddle with a, well, muddler. If you don’t have one, use the dowel end of your largest diameter wooden spoon or even a teaspoon will do, but you will have to work a little harder. The idea is to bruise the leaves not macerate them into tiny pieces that will later get caught in your or guests teeth.
Add cubes of ice, never crushed, half way up the glass along with the rum, lime juice and the infused sugar water. Now, gently stir your mojito a little and enjoy a most perfect, classic cocktail.
Notes: The key to a great infused water is to allow the liquid to cool down naturally, that is, to room temperature before removing leaves and refrigerating. Always use fresh limes, preferably the smaller Floridian Key or Mexican limes; use Persian as the last resort but never use bottled lime juice. On average, each cocktail will use about 1 1/2 lime including the twist.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
16 mint leaves, washed
Heat water in a small saucepan over medium high heat to a boil. Add sugar and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add mint leaves. Allow to steep until water comes to room temperature. Remove leaves, refrigerate to cool or until needed.