Some of you may already know how much I love mint. It has an aromatic, sweet and refreshing taste that makes it incredibly versatile. It can be used to create both savoury dishes and desserts, and combines well with an impressive number of ingredients – everything from lamb to ricotta, and lemons to beans and peas. I recently came across a recipe for pea and mint ice-cream, and am seriously considering buying an ice-cream maker just so that I can try it. And I don’t even like ice-cream.
It’s probably not surprising, then, that my favourite cocktail is a well-made, classic mojito. Its a traditional Cuban drink that is characterised by its distinctively refreshing flavour – which makes it the perfect drink for summer – and which is created by the process of muddling mint with lime. And then adding rum, of course.
The recipes that I’ve found stress the importance of the ingredients, as well as the method by which the cocktail is made. So, a traditional mojito is made of five basic parts: sugar, lime juice, mint, rum and soda water. The sugar goes in first, and lime juice is added in order to dissolve it. A generous amount of mint goes in next – including the stalks as well as leaves – which is mashed (or ‘muddled’) in order to release the essential oils it contains. Apparently, no good will come of any attempt to shred or chop the mint before adding it to the glass, so it’s probably best not to try doing that. The rum – which is made from sugar cane – goes in next. Traditionally, white rum is used to make cocktails, including the mojito, but I prefer to use golden rum, which has been aged in wooden (oak) barrels, and has a stronger taste – and far superior flavour – than white rum. After stirring, the drink is topped with soda water and ice cubes (four appears to be the magic number here), and decorated with lime wedges and sprigs of mint.
The traditional mojito – refreshing, tangy and invigorating – is best served as an aperitif.
Classic Mojito: Ingredients and method
This makes enough for one glass