Recently I’ve been thinking more than usual about a trip to a Caribbean island, but COVID has me down, so I’ve compensated by making mojitos and sitting on my balcony. I think of a mojito as basically a daiquiri (rum, lime, sugar) that adds mint and lengthens with club soda. I’ve got a recipe at the bottom, so if you don’t care about the history of blah blah blah, feel free to skip to the end at this point.
Mojitos were a Cuban invention from the early 1900s, and were timed pretty well with the start of Prohibition in the US. American tourists flocked to Cuba around that time, with one big motivation being legal booze. As supplies of American whiskey ran out the mojito was there to provide a new option for drinkers, and it was based on ingredients that were readily available.
Most mojito recipes will call for a “white rum” – this does not mean an unaged rum, like most white rums you’ll find in a grocery store liquor section. Cuban rum regulations REQUIRE aging rum, and the color is then filtered out of the rum using charcoal (a similar process is used for your boy Jack Daniels). So I recommend using a lightly aged rum – something around 3 years. I’ve used Don Q Gold for this article (some details below), but I think Ron del Barrilito 2 Star makes it a better drink. If you feel like doing it real authentic, get some Havana Club from Canada or something.
The Don Q Gold taste profile works pretty well for this drink. Poured neat, the Don Q has a light scent profile, with notes of vanilla and some caramel sweetness. It goes down pretty easy and smooth, with relatively little burn – especially considering the price point. It has a simple flavor profile, with notes of vanilla and a little sweetness. While this isn’t something I’d sip, it works well in cocktails that call for light Puerto Rican rums – such as the Mojito I made with it.
I tried a few mojito variations, changing rums and sweeteners to see how this recipe could be modified. Turns out that straying from simple syrup and a light, simple rum ruins this drink pretty fast – one variation I made with a rhum agricole and cane syrup was undrinkable to the point that I dumped it out. After some fine tuning, I ended up on this recipe, which does a good job balancing the sweet and light profile:
3/4 ounce simple syrup
6-8 mint leaves
2 ounces lightly aged rum
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
club soda (for serving)
mint (for garnish)
Muddle the mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, then add the rum, lime juice, and ice. Shake the shaker until it’s cold and unpleasant to hold. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice and at least one good sprig of mint (more than I used for my photo above), then top with club soda.