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Monday, 8 June 2015

Cuban Mojitos with Havana Club Rum: Where To Get 'Em and the Perfect Recipe

As confessed in my last post, I am really quite wary when it comes to cocktails. But one that I do like is a mojito - a long, sharp, simple drink traditionally made with only five ingredients (white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water and mint) and therefore (in theory) easy enough even for a cocktail duffer like me to make. All too often though, the mojito is presented in some kind of adulterated form, with all sorts of unnecessary nonsense thrown in - presumably in the name of "innovation" or to appeal to sweeter palates. Now Havana Club - one of the world's best-selling rum brands - are on a mission to teach us how to make the perfect mojito without any of that frippery, and have been travelling the country looking for bars that make the real deal, the kind of mojitos people actually drink in Cuba (although I'll have to take their word for this). Surprisingly, there are only four Manchester bars that have made it on to the Havana Club Certified list - Gorilla, Cloud 23, Neighbourhood and Guilty by Association.

As I was unable to attend a recent mojito masterclass at Gorilla due to being at a glamorous and glittering event elsewhere*, Havana Club kindly sent me my own mojito-making kit to try at home, complete with recipe card, two jaunty tins and a bottle of Havana Club Anejo 3-year-old. Here's their recipe, along with what I hope are helpful additions.

*waiting in at home for a plasterer

Step 1: Squeeze the juice of half a fresh lime into a glass and add two teaspoons of white sugar. Stir with a spoon or swirl the glass around until the sugar is dissolved. I thought I knew better here and used only one spoon of sugar, but I then had to go back and add some more so that just shows you how much I know.

Step 2: Tap two whole fresh mint sprigs on the back of your hand to release the fragrant aromas. I grow mint in my garden all year round for the sole purpose of making emergency mojitos, and can confirm that the tapping motion is also very useful for dislodging small, slumbering insects who have hitherto resided on your mint leaves. Gently muddle (press) the mint a few times with the end of a wooden spoon.

Step 3: Fill the glass with ice. As you can see, I fell down a bit here and didn't have quite enough ice to reach the top. Use the bottle cap to pour four caps of rum over the ice (I must confess to doing this bit freehand), then top up with sparkling water.

The result was lovely (once I'd gone back and added the sugar that should have been there in the first place) and although I've done it in a normal glass here for viewing purposes, I shall be using my Havana Club tins next time. As drinking a mojito in the garden is almost certainly the nearest I'll get to being in Cuba for the forseeable future, it's nice to know I'm doing it right (although I consider further practice is the very least I can do).

For rather better instructions than I've given you here, visit the Havana Club website - if you sign up to their newsletter there's a chance to win your own mojito-making kit as well. Havana Club sent me the kit free of charge but asked only for honest feedback - I can confirm that the three-year-aged rum goes perfectly in a mojito and that the recipe is so foolproof even I can successfully recreate it.

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