Monday, June 1, 2009
Nothing says "overexposure" like a mojito. A drink that traces its origins to Cuba in the 16th century, it became the drink to have in the late 1990's for the urban hipster crowd. There was a time when you couldn't throw a lime without hitting a guy with a caesar haircut and huaraches, smoking a cigar and complaining about mint getting stuck in the straw of his mojito. Then came the backlash - when you started to see mojitos adverstised as the special at Bennigan's, you knew what was coming. I went to Cafe Atlantico in DC at the height of mojito hysteria and ordered one at the bar - I got an extremely condescending "We don't MAKE mojitos here..." response, which baffled me at the time (what don't you have? the limes? mint? sugar? rum?? is this a bar???).
Hipsterism aside, mojitos are a great drink. Simple to make (assuming you can muddle something without breaking a glass), pretty to look at, and the epitome of freshness, this is the perfect summertime cocktail. Freshness of ingredients is obviously key - I made mine with mint picked from a farm that morning, and fresh mint makes a world of difference. And I use club soda instead of lemon lime soda - you could use that if you drop the sugar, but I think the sugar gives it a much cleaner, non-cloyingly sweet taste. If you don't have fresh mint, make something else - even if it means having to change out of your huaraches.
2 - 3 sugar cubes
1/4 cup (about a small handful) fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 oz light rum (Bacardi)
3 oz club soda
lime wedge and mint sprig for garnish
In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle the sugar cubes, mint leaves, and lime juice together with a muddler, gently but firmly grinding the ingredients together until the sugar mostly dissolves. Don't use a muddler with ridges on the end, and don't beat the hell out of the ingredients - the point is to bruise them and release the flavorful oils.
Fill the glass with ice cubes, add the rum, and then the soda. Stir well with a bar spoon, pulling up a little to distribute the mint leaves throughout the glass. Garnish with lime wedge and mint sprig.