All summer, resident videographer, Katherine Guanche, has been asking for a Mojito. Having grown up in Miami with Cuban-born parents, she naturally craves this venerable Cuban cocktail, tart sweet and refreshing.

I, on the other hand, waited, waited all summer to make her one, and so I did my best to perfect it. And with the New England weather on the verge of turning, and the honking of geese overhead preparing to migrate, I knew I shouldn’t wait another day. This one’s for you, Katherine!

One thing I didn’t know about the Mojito until looking into it, having only spent my time on the stool-side of the bar, is that the Mojito is not a favorite amongst bartenders. According to Wayne Curtis, writing at Liquor.com, “It takes too much time to make, it’s a pain to clean up and it’s ordered in quantities far too large by drinkers far too unadventurous.”

Nevertheless, Curtis says correctly, it’s a very, very good drink when thoughtfully constructed.

Toward that end, and to enhance the drink for our beloved Katherine, I made a mint simple syrup. Too often, the drink lacks enough minty flavor, or it’s got great mint flavor, but the mint has been pulverized to the point that my companions must discreetly mention that I have something caught between my teeth.

Having a mint simple syrup makes the drink quick to make as well, as it allows me to “muddle” the mint by smashing it with my fingers. (I made they syrup by combining 1 cup each water, sugar and mint—stems are ok to include but don’t have much flavor—in a pan, bring to a simmer, allow to cool, then strain.)

But mix as you wish: muddle the mint in a shaker and strain, muddle mint in a glass first, use sugar instead of simple syrup, increase or decrease the amount of rum. Whatever your druthers, a proper Mojito combines a light rum with fresh lime juice, sugar, and mint, and it’s topped with soda water. Make it and taste it! Is it the perfect balance of sweet, tart, rum and sparkle? Adjust as necessary. When we recorded the video, I wanted the rum to come through the seltzer more distinctively. And so I am recommending a 3 ounce pour, as opposed to the standard 2 ounces—because it’s Friday, goddammit, and it’s the end of summer, goddammit, and Katherine deserves it, goddammit, and we’re still in the pandmemic. GODDAMMIT!

The mojito is a great reminder of the interconnectedness of cocktails, for the Mojito is simply a Daiquiri with mint, on the rocks with a splash of soda. And on that note, you can also use the mint syrup for a splendid variation on the Daiquiri, which of course is simply a gimlet made with rum rather than gin! Daiquiri variations are fun as well, such as The Hemingway Dacquiri and the Maraschino Dacquiri.

Today’s poem is another from the lovely Mary Oliver, born yesterday in 1935 in Maple Heights, OH, a fifteen minute drive from where I grew up, in Shaker Heights. Here she is at the wonderful Brain Pickings, reading Wild Geese.

Happy Friday, everyone!

The Mojito

The Cuban cocktail, rum, lime and mint, topped with soda.
Prep Time 2 mins
Course Cocktail
Cuisine Cuban
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 8 mint leaves
  • 3 ounces light rum (2 is standard)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce mint simple syrup (see above for how to make; plain simple syrup is standard)
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 lime wheel

Instructions
 

  • Crush the mint between your fingers until they're fragrant and put them in a highball glass.
  • Add the rum, lime juice and simple syrup.
  • Fill the glass with ice, and top the glass off with soda water.
  • Garnish with the sprig of mint and lime wheel.
Keyword Cuba, Lime, mint, rum