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The "Perfect" Mojito


To understand a drink, you first of all have to understand the drink... so first of all lets discuss what makes a Mojito a mojito:
  • Lime juice
  • Addition of sugar
  • Light rum
  • Fizz
  • Fresh mint
Additionally to these features, what is important to experience the Mojito
  • Freshness
  • Medium alcohol contend
  • Fizz
  • Light rum aromas
  • Its not offensive - rather pleasant and "complimentary"
  • Cracked ice
Ok - there were some repetitions in the last points - those even have more emphasis on the drink.

Finally the points, which are not associated with a mojito [or should not be associated]
  • Syrupy, thick or sickly sweet
  • Other herbs as mint
  • Other spirits as rum
  • Muddling anything in a mojito [!]
  • Any bold flavors [like fruit, spice, liquor, etc.]
What we have to understand here: Like a Martini cocktail, a Mojito is not a drink category. Even if you vary the recipe, you should still close down pretty much on the original mojito experience. All these strawberry, basil or ginger mojitos [you name it] are not really mojitos. Call it like you want - but don't call something with blueberries a mojito!

You also have to understand the history - a mojito is not a recent phenomenon - it is a drink, which was created around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and became really popular in the 20's and 30's of the 20th century. By then, they didn't muddled and they didn't used excessive fruit - consuming a mixed drink was quite a sophisticated affair.
How to emphasize on quality and replicate this experience?

Look at the ingredients and decide yourself:

P
Lime Juice: Yes, it is lime juice - no sweet and sour, no lemon juice - not even yuzu. It is lime. Freshly squeezed is choice. Yes - in cookingissues.com Dave Arnold found out, that a couple of hours make lime juice better- but we have to keep in mind, that everything in excess of 8 hours become bad - very bad! Hence you will have a more consistent product, if you are just pressing your limes in the moment, somebody orders a cocktail with limes.
You surely can use small Indian limes / key limes [but you have to be carefully to take out the seeds] but I believe, that the less "flavorful" but much juicier Persian lime [the rather bigger ones, coming most of the time from the US or from Brazil] works better. It has a more subtle flavor - and more upfront acidity; that is exactly what you are looking for.
And - we are talking about lime juice - not lime chunks! You are using lime chunks [wedges, you name it] in Caipirinhas; but you are using juice in a mojito; period!

Sugar: I don't recommend simple or rich syrup. Yes it would make your life much easier, but it doesn't extract the essences of your mint; and it would increase dilution.
 You need "grainy sugar". And yes - the sugar should be white.
Most people don't know, what brown sugar is: brown sugar is {most of the time} white sugar, which is enriched with molasses - hence it has a molasses taste!
You want to have clean flavors in a mojito - you don't want to have anything molasses [but the light rum].
Super fine sugar [also called bar sugar or bakers sugar] is definitely a very good choice. It dissolved reasonably faster, than your average caster sugar; use organic [unbleached] super fine sugar, to feel ecological and good :).
Fructose would be a daring choice - but it works very well - I would say - it would be the sugar of choice: Fructose is sweeter, edgier [less "round mouthfeel" as normal caster sugar] and dissolved much faster than any other sugar. Perfect for a mojito.

Light rum: Light rum - is not only light of color - but also light in taste. You want to have an inoffensive, fresh rum in a mojito - no flavor bomb. E.g. I really like 10Cane rum - however it is pretty much the worst choice for this cocktail - it almost taste as intensive as a dark rum [well... and unfortunately I've never tried Banks 5 rum - which could be a hit- but either way a miss].
The alcohol contend should be at least 40% - but if you can find a rum with 43% or 45% abv it won't hurt - so watch out, those who are in Europe - some big volume rums are sold there at 38% abv - which is definitely too low.
Further it should be a molasses rum - Cuban/Puerto Rican style [but it doesn't need to come from there]. A very good mojito rum would be Elements 8 Platinum or Matusalem Platinum - Havana Club [the Cuban version - don't know the Puerto Rican variant] is not bad - but I think, it is not fresh enough and carries too many distracting aromas - this anyway will be a matter of choice and preferences.

Fresh mint: Yeah - it has to be fresh. Really fresh. Just check out my post, how to make the freshest mint possible, with the mint you have on hand.
Nerds would now point out, that a Mojito is made with the herb "yerba buena" the mint, which grows in Cuba [yerba buena is quite a confusing term, because there are different herbs called "the good herb" - North America has a herb called yerba buena, which might have mint properties, but isn't a real mint - in Cuba yerba buena is in the family of "true mint" - its character is similar to spearmint]. However you will have trouble to get yerba buena anywhere than in the Caribbean islands themselves - so don't bother. My suggestion is just: stay with a classic mint - don't go fancy [with chocolate mint or pineapple mint] - much more important than the genus of mint, is the freshness! [I thought about growing my own mint... but this is one of my ideas, which are a bit more remote of realization].

And then there is the handling of the mint. Don't muddle! If you are muddling, you will get 
  1. Spinach-like texture; the leaf pieces are sticking all over or your guests teeth
  2. Muddy aromas - the mint aroma just changes negatively, if you are crushing it - just don't do it.
You really only want to bruise the mint - the use of a spoon will keep you from unintentional muddling...

And for those, who are wondering - the mint should give some fresh aromas to the drink, though it should not taste really minty. Mint should be an acknowledgeable yet subtle facet of the mojito. 

Fizz: The original mojito recipe uses club soda, to give the mojito a fizz. No objections there!
Don't use any sweet sodas. You don't want to load your originally good drink with HFCS, preservatives and other commercial stuff. And the taste of the listed ingredients are strong enough to hold up - you don't need additional natural identical or artificial aromas.

One daring idea would be, using a carbonator to additionally fizz up the Mojito - this would not contradict any of the given qualities of this drink. It would actually make the drink quite a sensational concoction.

Ice: The original mojito was made with cracked ice, due to the unavailability of commercial ice cubes [in those days]. Nowadays Cubans use most of the time ice cubes [well, no Cuban bar has a Hoshizaki or Kold-Draft ice machine - so don't expect 1"+ ice cubes].
You can see this topic a little bit more pragmatic, than the previous ones. I like to offer ice cubes in a warmer environment [as the cubes are melting slower] and crushed ice in a colder environment [it is just fancier] - or a compromise: you prepare the mojito with ice cubes and just top it up with crushed ice...

Glass: A mojito should be served in a highball glass. It is »slightly« fizzy, a virtue which always deserves a rather slender style of glass. The glass itself should not be too big - 28 - 35 cl would be the perfect size.









Preparation: Personally I believe, that there is a Mojito ritual - this is my very personal one:
  1. Bruise the mint [you can bruise the mint in your hand palms - make sure, you have freshly washed hands]
  2. Put the mint into the glass [a chilled but not frosted glass works best]
  3. Squeeze in the fresh lime juice [2cl]
  4. Add a little bit club soda [<4 br="br" cl="cl">
  5. Add two bar spoons of sugar [adjust accordingly the amount of sugar to the variety of sugar]
  6. Stir and dissolve the sugar - don't crush the mint - just bruise it and let the sugar does it works
  7. When all sugar is dissolved, add the rum [5 cl]
  8. Add ice
  9. Stir to chill down [ca.15 sec]
  10. Add club soda [<6 cl="cl" li="li">
  11. Garnish with a mint sprig


Comments

  1. Brilliant analysis! Thanks for this one!

    Your conclusion reflects almost exactly what is done
    at the Bodeguita del Medio in Havanna, Cuba.
    Maybe with the exception that they have to use Cuban rum. Not a bad choice at all, but there are serious alternatives.
    Get in touch with me, you HAVE TO try a Banks 5 Mojito.
    With over a decade under the flag of Havana Club I was quite surprised when I had my first one.
    I don't like the word "best" when it comes to drinks and drinking as the choice of the liquor and the drink depends on too many factors. So I just want to recommend you test it.
    If you allow I like to spread your article, it has include all the key points! ABV is often neglected but disqualifies many products over here for serious use.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Robin, thank you so much for your comment.
    Yeah - I should use less "the best" - sometimes I would just recommend what "works best" from my perspective.
    Please be free to spread this article [and more].

    The problem is, that Banks 5 is [to my knowledge] not available here in the Middle East [speak UAE].
    The only challenge I see is, that I have seen a lot of reviews, which praise the bold aromas of it - while this is usually a very good point, it seems misplaced for the mojito [same happens to be the challenge with 10Cane - while a really nice rum - the flavor profile just doesn't match - at least for a classic mojito].

    Anyway - I am always open to learn new things!

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Whoa, I stand corrected, as I stated in my response to your comment on my site. Your main photo is not showing, by the way. Let's keep in touch. I need you to keep me on the straight arm. Thanks, Liz

    ReplyDelete
  4. Liz; hope I was not too harsh over at your site.
    Thanks for commenting and yeah - lets definitely stay in touch!

    ReplyDelete

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