Hanging on the wall of the La Bodeguita del Medio bar in Havana, is Ernest Hemingway’s homage to the cocktails he enjoyed at his two favourite haunts: "My mojito in La Bodeguita; My daiquiri in El Floridita“. The handwritten note made the mojito as famous as La Bodeguita’s clientele (Nat King Cole, poet Pablo Naruda and Marlene Dietrich were regulars).
The origins of the cocktail are said to be somewhat less salubrious, coming out of the Cuban sugar fields where African slaves combined the cane’s two finest products: Guarapo (juice) and rum, adding limes and yerba buena(mint) for good measure.
Nobody’s quite sure if the name derives from ‘mojo’ a local limed-based seasoning or from the Spanish “mojadito” (a little wet). What’s not in dispute is that a good mojito should be served in a highball glass and the mint leaves bruised, not shredded, to release the flavoured oils.
Some might dismiss the mojito’s light, summery freshness as a little on the girlie side, but if it’s good enough for Hemingway, it’s more than enough for any man.
45ml white rum
10 fresh mint leaves
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup ice cubes
125ml soda water
Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a highball glass. Use a muddler to gently crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice.
Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar. Muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture.
Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice and fill the glass with soda water. Stir briefly to dissolve sugar and lift mint leaves off the bottom of the glass.
Garnish with mint leaves and the remaining lime wedge.