Ah… the Mojito. What other drink conjures such relaxing images of poolside parties, tropical nights, and breezy beach scenes? A perennial summertime favorite across the world, the drink hails from Havana, Cuba in a special little bar called La Bodeguita del Medio. The bar is famous for being the favorite Mojito sipping spot of “Papa” himself, Ernest Hemingway. Haleigh and I were lucky enough to visit this legendary spot when we were in Cuba in 2019 and let me tell you, it’s a sight to behold seeing these bartenders pump out Mojito after Mojito on what seems like an assembly line of a bartop. The drink itself is simple, but often generates groans and eyerolls from bartenders because it can be messy and time consuming to whip up — but it doesn’t have to be!
Here’s the real Mojito, fresh from Cuba, in its simplest and most delicious form:
2 oz White Rum
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
8-10 Mint Leaves
5 Lime Wedges
DIRECTIONS: Add your mint to the bottom of a Collins or Highball glass, then add lime wedges on top of it. Add Simple Syrup and muddle the limes, pressing downward into the mint, careful not to tear the leaves. Your goal here is to press the juice from the limes, while expressing oils from the mint. If the leaves tear, not only will the Mojito look messy, you will also slurp up bits of mint and get them stuck in your teeth, and the overall clean-up will take more time. (This is what leads to bartenders hating to make the drink — dump a bunch of torn mint into the sink and it’ll get clogged up.) Once you’ve muddled, add ice and pour over your rum. Finally, top with soda water and give it a good stir. You can insert a bar spoon or swizzle stick into the glass and briskly agitate the mint and lime at the bottom so that all the ingredients meld together. Grab a large mint sprig and smack it on your palm to bring out that great aroma and add it to the glass. Finish with a lime wheel and straw, all tightly grouped together so it’s nice and neat.