Micky’s cocktail cabinet: Mojito

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WELCOME to another edition of Micky’s Cocktail Cabinet. After bringing you Sex on the Beach, Sugar Syrup (which you’ll need for this one!) and Jelly Shots, I’m back again with a recipe for a crisp and refreshing mojito.

The ingredients:

  • 2 shots of white rum
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 2 shots of sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
  • 1 shot of lime Juice or half a lime
  • Soda or Sparkling Water
  • 1 shot = 30 ml/1 fl. oz.

Recipe

Firstly, you’re best off preparing the sugar syrup in advance. Since sugar syrup is a key ingredient in a lot of cocktails, I’ve made a little companion piece to this illustrating a couple of methods of making it, but the simplest method I can recommend is to take a small bottle, half fill it with equal measures of sugar and water, seal up the bottle and shake it until all of the sugar has dissolved (if you have some syrup leftover, it’ll keep for approximately a month in the fridge). Once you’ve made it, put it aside for now.

Take the mint leaves and drop them into the bottom of a long glass. These need to be gently “muddled”, which is basically the process of mashing the mint leaves with a blunt object to help release the flavour (note: “gently.” You don’t need to mash the leaves into little pieces). In a proper bar you would have a proper muddler (a club-like object with a rounded end), but any long object with a rounded end can suffice. Turning spatulas the ‘wrong’ way around and using the ends of their handles to muddle the mint will do, but seeing as muddlers are an inexpensive piece of kit, if you foresee yourself needing one often, it isn’t a bad investment.

With the mint leaves muddled, add the lime juice. There’s two ways to go about obtaining the lime juice: firstly, you can buy pre-squeezed lime juice from the cooking aisle in most supermarkets. The other method (which I prefer) is to take half a lime and cut it into either slices or wedges, drop them into the glass and give them a good squish with the muddler to get the juice out and leave them in there; both for decorative effect and for their flavour to soak into the drink.

Add the rum and add the sugar syrup then give everything a gentle stir. Half fill the glass with ice (crushed ice is preferable but you can get away with whole ice cubes, especially if they’re small) and then top up with soda or sparkling water.

Stick a straw in the drink (if ever there was a cocktail that needed a straw, it’s this one – the bits of mint and lime will get in the way if you try to consume it without one), give it another little stir, decorate with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint leaves and enjoy!

Variations

As one of the most popular and well-known cocktails, unsurprisingly, there are a lot of worthwhile variations on the recipe:

Remove the rum…

There isn’t really a non-alcoholic flavour that can replace the rum, so making a non-alcoholic mojito is simply a matter of removing the rum. The drink is still crisp and refreshing, though it perhaps lacks that bit of a kick that rum gives it.

Use dark rum…

Whilst the traditional recipe calls for white rum, I know people who swear by using dark rum in their mojitos. If you’re a fan of dark rum, or just simply happen to have some lying about, there’s no harm in making a dark rum mojito. The difference in taste is subtle, but noticeable enough to make it worthwhile for anyone who prefers their rum dark.

Add a liqueur or Schnapps…

Where the mojito recipe calls for sugar syrup, you can replace it with a sweet liqueur/schnapps instead. Fruit flavoured ones tend to be the most effective ones. Personally I’ve tried it using Chambord (berry liqueur), elderflower liqueur, melon schnapps, peach schnapps and lychee liqueur; and whilst I can say all of them tasted nice, I’d say the latter two are my favourites (in particular, I recommend peach schnapps since it’s pretty cheap and easily acquired). When it comes to the measurements, I’d recommend swapping 1 shot of liqueur/schnapps for the 2 shots of sugar syrup, but you can always add more if you’d like the taste to be more distinctive.

Add champagne…

This variation goes by the rather fanciful name: “Royal Mojito”, and I can honestly say I’ve never had the fortune to try this (because I’m a student and the concept of me being able to afford champagne is laughable at best); nevertheless, using champagne to top up the mojito instead of soda/sparkling water is a fairly commonplace variation. If you’re a champagne fan, and somehow you’re able to afford it on your student budget, by all means give it a try and let me know what you think.

Add a few dashes of Angostura bitters…

Angostura bitters feature in a fair few cocktails and are relatively accessible (most supermarkets carry it, either in their alcohol or cooking sections). Two or three dashes of it adds a complimentary flavour dimension to the mojito.