I’ve had lots of friends and family visiting this year from up north and they often ask me to suggest a good, warm weather, Florida cocktail. My answer is always the same, “Try a mojito.” The mojito first became known as Ernest Hemingway’s drink of choice in a bar called La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba. But until recently, the mojito was overshadowed by the popular margarita, which is more sour and is made with tequila, a liquor that is hard for some people to tolerate, and the daiquiri and pina colada, which are much sweeter than a mojito.
No longer an obscure Miami cocktail, the mojito is now popular worldwide. Over the past couple of years I have tried mojitos in Canada, Greece, Turkey and France. Not only did everyone serve mojitos, they had slight variations on the classic lime and mint combination using brown sugar, agave nectar, champagne, or even lemons instead of limes.
What I love about the mojito is that it’s never the same twice. Making a good mojito shows the skill of the bartender and a good mojito takes more time to produce than the average cocktail. (Which is why you should never order a mojito in a very busy bar.) Unlike those other classic cocktails that are often made with standard bar mixes so the flavor is always the same, most bars still make mojitos from scratch. The proportions and potency of the lime and the mint plus the amount of sweetness can vary greatly and each bartender makes even the classic mojito in their own unique way. If you’ve tried a mojito and didn’t like it, don’t give up. Try another one with a different bartender and you’ll have a completely different drink.
The basic recipe is lime, mint, soda water, simple syrup, rum or vodka. So from drink to drink, bar to bar, you never know quite what you’ll get. But at the same time, it’s always fixable to your liking. Too sour? –ask for some more syrup. Too sweet?—add some lime. And one mojito can last you all night. Order a sparkling water on the side and just keep topping up your mojito as the night goes on. Okay the flavor diminishes a bit but your head feels better the next day. Yes there are varieties of the mojito – a watermelon mojito, strawberry mojito, but I love the classic.