The Booze Blog - Alcohol, Bars, Malaysia and Beyond.

3 December 2014

The IBA Project: Mojito

The Mojito - my mum ony drinks this.
The Grandfather Story:
- Likely birthplace in Cuba.

- There are 2 versions of its origins, pick one you like:
1) In the 1500s, its original recipe was used as medicine to cure scurvy aboard Francis Drake's ship where he learnt it from the South Americans. It was made with firewater (crude form of rum), lime, sugarcane juice and mint.
2) Could've been created by African slaves working in the Cuban sugarcane fields in the 1800 where sugarcane juice was in abundance (but the recipe was without lime).

- The name itself could apparently be derived from:
1) Mojar, a Spanish verb suggesting wetness.
2) An African word 'mojo', meaning spell.
3) Mojo, a Cuban seasoning made from lime and used to flavour dishes.
4) Mojadito (Spanish for “a little wet”) or simply the diminutive of Mojado (“wet”).


Fun Facts:
- It is very, very important that you know it is pronounced moHEEtoe, not mohJEEtoe.
- Apart from the daiquiri, this is supposedly Ernest Hemingway's favourite drink.
- Bet you didn't know (or remember) that James Bond ordered it in Die Another Day.

Strength & Taste:
Refreshing & balanced between sweet and sour, if done right and to your liking. It shouldn't taste strong. One of the best tasting easy drinking cocktails ever.

IBA standard recipe & method: 
Recipe:
4 cl White Cuban Rum
3 cl Fresh lime juice
6 Mint sprigs
2 teaspoons white sugar
Soda water

Method:
Muddle mint springs with sugar and lime juice.
Add splash of soda water and fill glass with cracked ice. Pour rum and top with soda water.
Garnish with spring of mint leaves and lemon slice. Serve with straw.

What goes into a mojito - sugar, lime juice, white rum, mint leaves, ice, (soda) water. Ignore the lemon slice, deco only.

Variations:
  • Using Cuban rum is not mandatory, no one's gonna sue you for it and the American can't get hold of them anyway because of their Cuban embargo. Any decent light rum will do.
  • In place of light rum, you could try to replace it with dark rum or even spiced rum. It's really quite nice.
  • Soda water? Not necessary. Ice cold water also can. Or melted down crushed ice too works.
  • You COULD cheat by not using actual mint leaves and replacing it with mint syrup. COULD. Feel free to try it, it may just work for you and the store bought syrup would have a longer shelf life than actual mint leaves.
  • Adding in fruits/puree will turn it into a <insert name of fruit here> mojito - tahdah!
  • Seriously, there are crap loads of variations to the mojito. Don't believe me? Just click on this link to Difford's Guide. And then type "mojito". There are 19 variations just in this site alone. NINETEEN.

Thoughts & Observations: 
  • IBA recipe absolutely CANNOT make it - too little rum and too sour. Not balanced at all. And just 6 mint leaves?  Those must be giant leaves the size of a hand because with just 6 leaves you get absolutely JACK ALL mint flavour.
  • Lemon slice garnish? That's completely random, IBA. I've never in my life seen any bar worth its salt garnished a glass of mojito with lemon. Lime or shit loads of other crap maybe, but never a lemon slice...you can ignore this point. I'm just nitpicking here.
  • At this point may I insert a rant to say that I really pity those people who don't know better and end up actually referring to IBA as their recipe guide simply because IBA is supposed to be the "reference point" for "standard meaurements" of "official cocktails" not knowing that it's already a doomed effort. Out of the 8 I've tried so far, only 1 kinda passed. Newbies are better off trying recipes from anywhere else on the internet. Really IBA, what's up with that? /end rant.
  • I don't usually have soda water handy, so I usually vigorously mix/melt crushed ice into the glass with the ingredients.
  • As usual, for me, sugar syrup over sugar any day.
  • Please don't beat the crap out of the mint leaves until it's all battered and black and gross. Just a light pressure on the leaves will do. Or you can simply clap it between your palms before dumping it into the glass to release the mint oils.
  • Any mint leaves will do. Those up-scale groceries have the fragile, but very fragrant hydrophonic peppermint, spearmint, and even applemint leaves. Try them all I say - see what you like. Local mints (used in laksa - also known as pudina in BM) are of course, more easily attainable and much cheaper. Don't feel like it's as fragant? Well, just use more of it! Do take note that mint leaves do not have a long shelf life, though. So if you're gonna buy it in bulk and hosting a party for 1, be prepared to dump 3/4 of it by midweek (I'm taking the liberty of assuming you're not the type of alcoholic who would actually consume 1 gallon of mojito at a go).
  • Always use FRESH mint leaves. The wilted one smells and tastes like what rotten veges would.
  • I've tried planting my own mint plants because according to the internet, they are the easiest, hardiest herbs to plant & maintain... well based on my umpteen failed attempts, I can safely tell you that the internet LIED. Or I'm just completely hopeless with green living things.
  • While bitters is optional - let me implore you to just add in 2 dashes because it really adds a little more oomph.
  • Mojitos are supposed to taste refreshing (from the mint leaves) and a BALANCE of sweet and sour. Also, it's really hard to mess up. However, the problem is that balance and taste is subjective. So if at first you order one from the bar and it is crap, do tell the bartender what is wrong with it. And if the second one is still crap, just ban that bar forever. The bartender doesn't know what the hell he is doing. 
  • Also if mojito is not a fast moving cocktail order in that bar, try to avoid ordering a mojito altogether. Remember that wilted mints tastes like crap.
  • Mojitos, while are crowd favourites, are also PAIN to make behind a very busy bar because it is tedious - so really, why not learn to make it at home and order something else more complex at the bar. Plus at home, you get to customise it to however you'd like for a fraction of the cost.
A mojito by any other glass or garnish, is still a mojito.

My Preference: 
45ml cuban light rum
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml sugar syrup (2 sugar : 1 water)
crap load of fresh mints to taste... maybe a handful of the cheap stuff.
crushed ice (simply bash ice cubes into a pulp with something hard)
Angostura bitters

Pour all the ingredients into a highball glass.
Bruise mint leaves by clapping it before dumping them into the glass.
Stir stir stir so that all the stuff gets mixed up nicely.
Fill half the glass with crushed ice.
Stir stir stir until you see that most of the ice is melted (be sure to taste before you've melted everything)
Top up the the glass with more crushed ice or cube ice.
Add 2 dashes of bitters and one quick stir before serving.

Sources & for more: 
(I'm beginning to suspect that all their stories originated from one source as it all reads similar).
http://www.esquire.com/drinks/mojito-drink-recipe
http://www.diffordsguide.com/encyclopedia/2014-05-20/429/cocktails/mojito-cocktail
http://www.carolinaheritageco.com/history-of-whiskey/cubas-famous-cocktail-mojito/
http://liquor.com/articles/behind-the-drink-the-mojito/
http://havanajournal.com/culture/entry/cuban-mojito-history-and-recipe/
http://travelaway.me/a-story-called-mojito/
http://www.americanmixologist.net/pages/amo/vlm23/23-06a12.htm
http://mojito-recipe.co/
http://wiki.webtender.com/wiki/Mojito

Click me for the list of drinks that's been covered in the IBA Project

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