The mojito has made it’s way into the mainstream of drink society and I couldn’t be happier. There are fewer things better than chilling out on a hot summer day with your favorite gal and a tall mojito. The sweetness of the sugar (1/2 to 3/4 of an ounce of simple syrup,) the dynamic interplay of the rum and lime (2 oz and 1/2 oz respectively,) and the vibrancy of the fresh mint (eight to ten leaves muddled and a sprig for garnish,) the effervescence of the club soda (fill to top of mojito or pilsner glass and stir.) The drink originated in Cuba and gained popularity in the United States with the film remake of Miami Vice. Actually I don’t think anyone cares about Miami Vice. I don’t know exactly what made the mojito popular in the U.S. I guess the real question is what took so long.
A little while ago, Heather and I were at at a monthly event at the club SOB’s called Basement Bhangra where they play Bhangra music and give you a crash course in Indian dancing and then turn you loose with your new found skills on a dance floor filled with strobe lights and lasers. The hook here is free mojitos early in the night to get things going. What ends up happening is that I forget most of what I learned and just start acting like a spaz. Heather too. We do this until the crowd get too big and invades our personal space. Dance clubs aren’t very big on personal space I’ve noticed. We get there early enough to avoid the large cover charge and head straight for the bar where we proceed to say things like, “Where’s my mojito?” and “Give it to me.”
What they gave us was a blue frozen concoction that was reminiscent of a Blue Raspberry Slurpee you would find at the 7-Eleven. Needless to say—but I’ll say it anyway because brevity is not my strong suit—we were a little disappointed. We tried it and it seemed to be sugar, ice, and peppermint schnapps (or some other mouthwash tasting liqueur) mixed in a blender with some blue food coloring. Come to think of it, maybe it was blue because they actually used Scope. I suppose there could have been rum in there but there was so much mint that I couldn’t tell. When the bartender came around again, we asked for a mojito. When he saw that our plastic cups were mostly full we looked him in the eye and said, “a real mojito.” He nodded, flashed us a knowing smile and made our drinks. They were carefully crafted and well balanced. As I enjoyed my drink I glanced down at my blue monstrosity and wondered how the former could be confused for the latter.
As with anything that gains popularity in the United States, I’ve seen a few mass marketing attempts. There are mixes that have the lime, mint, and sugar in it. There are mixes that even include the rum. Orbit has a line of gum called mint mojito (a bit redundant considering that a mojito already has mint.) At the restaurant where I am employed, they serve a virgin sparkling mojito with ginger. It’s pretty good but when you take the rum out, it has no balls. It’s more of a sparkling lime-aid.
If you ever get the opportunity, gentle reader, to whip up a pitcher of mojitos for a party or small gathering, you will be the hit of said party. I’ve done it before and it goes over well. Sometimes when I’m drinking a mojito, I look at all the leaves and lime floating around and I imagine that it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon—that somewhere in space, on a distant planet, there’s a river that flows with mojito and all somebody had to do was go dunk my glass into it’s ever-flowing mojito waters and bring it to me. God bless you space river. Of course this thought usually occurs to me by mojito number three or four.