Weekend Cocktail: The Cuban Table’s Mojito

As we start the run up to the holiday season — not to mention the weekend — we thought we’d feature the Mojito recipe from our new favorite cookbook, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History by Ellen Silverman and Ana Sofia Pelaez. Pelaez tells the story behind the delish cocktail that is made right in the glass:

Though Hemingway popularized the drink with a single backhanded compliment to his favorite Havana watering holes, declaring, “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquirí in El Floridita,” the cocktail’s origin can be traced back to the sixteenth-century el Draque, a crude blend of lime, sugar and aguardiente, invented by pirates on expedition with Sir Francis Drake. Eventually, the aguardiente was replaced with smooth, light-bodied rums elaborated in the late 1800s and the Mojito—an African word roughly translated as “little spell”—was cast. This recipe comes from my uncle Guillermo Tremols who learned it from Deus, a bartender at Havana’s Miramar Yacht Club.

We’re thinking that that it would be fun to encourage our guests to make their own Mojito right in a glass from the array of ingredients we’ve laid out, along with glasses, ice and spoons or table knives (using their handles) to muddle. They can tailor it exactly to their taste, and get the pitch of sweet and sour perfect. All we have to do is provide lots of freshly squeezed lime juice.

Mojito

Serves 1; scale up indefinitely

12 fresh spearmint leaves with stems
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2½ ounces white rum
2 to 3 ounces club soda, to top off
1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters (optional)

Muddle the mint, lime juice, and sugar in an 8-ounce glass until the mint is gently bruised. Stir in the rum and add ice. Top off with club soda. If you like, add bitters to taste. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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