The Mojito

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Once the cocktail de choix in the hippest bars, the mojito has slipped in favour but when I took my first sip in maybe a decade I was reminded what a sublime refresher this is. Apart from the Mojito’s undoubted Cuban origins, sometime towards the end of the 19th century, much about the drink is shrouded in bar-room haze. Does the name stem from mojadito (‘a little wet’) or is it a diminutive of mojo (which in turn can mean both magic spell and spicy sauce)? Finally, do you add fizzy water or still? One advisor, just back from Cuba, pooh-poohed the idea of bubbles, though most people expect them. Do you use gomme syrup (sold in Waitrose, Sainsbury and specialist shops) or granulated? Do you merely squeeze the half-lime or pitch in the rind? How heftily do you muddle (bruise) the mint, bearing in mind that Cuban mint, known as verbabuena, is less assertive than ours? All are worth considering, but not for long, since the mojito is one of the most delectably refreshing cocktails in existence. ‘Very refreshing,’ agreed the Tasting Panel (my wife). ‘It’s the perfect sunny evening drink.’ Christopher Hirst

For one drink:

  • Around 20 mint leaves
  • 20ml of gomme (sugar) syrup or 2 tsp light muscavado sugar
  • Juice of a half a lime
  • 50ml white or golden rum
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Mineral water

Lightly muddle (use the handle of a wooden spoon if you haven’t a muddler) the mint, sugar and lime juice for about a minute in a tall beaker. Add rum and bitters and stir. Add cracked ice to within an inch of the brim and stir thoroughly. Fill with mineral water and stir again. Serve with a straw.