Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mojito Battle Royale

In an Amateur Mixologist first, we're comparing recipes.  How does the American Bar Mojito recipe stand up compared to The Ultimate Bar Book Mojito recipe?  We'll find out in a moment, but first, let's look into the Mojito.

The Mojito is a drink of Cuban origin, made of five ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime, sparkling water and mint.  The Mojito dates back to an English pirate named Richard Drake, who purportedly invented a Mojito-like cocktail in the late 16th century.  I don't believe what Mr. Drake was drinking was remotely close to the modern mojito, but let's humor the historians for a moment and continue on...

After Mr. Drake created El Draque, the next incarnation included rum as opposed to rum's forebearer "aquardiente."   By the way, how terrible a drink name is El Draque.  It sounds too similar to El Dreck.  Perhaps Mr. Drake was in fact speaking yiddish in the 16th century.  In any event, it was said by Cuban playwright and poet Federico Villoch in 1940 that "[w]hen aquardiente was replaced with rum, the Draque was to be called a Mojito."

My favorite quote in one of the write-ups is this almost incidental addition to the historical record: "Other accounts suggest that slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields in the late 19th century invented the mojito."

Now listen, I have no idea who invented this drink, but, I would say that if I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the slaves as having invented the Mojito.  Why?  Because white people steal everything!  Richard Drake probably saw a slave make the drink, and claimed it once it proved popular.  In other words, I'm postulating that Richard Drake was the Elvis Presley of his time.

I kid, I kid.  I have no idea how it all went down.

Enough with the history, on with the drinking.

American Bar Mojito

Mojito Battle Royal

The tale of the tape:

American Bar, page 140

Juice of half a lime
1 barspoon powdered sugar
2 oz white rum
mint sprig

Stir sugar and lime juice well in a large high-ball glass.  Crush mint leaves with pestle, add the squeezed half lime.  Fill with crushed ice, add rum, stir.  Add soda, garnish with mint sprig.

American Bar Ingredients


The Ultimate Bar Book, page 269

1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
6 to 8 fresh mint leaves
2 ounces light rum
2 to 4 ounces chilled club soda
Fresh mint sprig

In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle together the lime juice, sugar, and mint leaves until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the rum.  Fill the glass with ice and top with club soda.  Garnish with the mint sprig.

The Ultimate Bar Book Ingredients

So how do the two drink recipes compare, and who is the big winner?

First the consolation prize:

The American Bar recipe is good, but not great.  I don't like using powdered sugar in any mixed drink.  I think it provides a saccharine-like flavor that isn't particularly palatable.  Also, there is bound to be some inconsistency from lime to lime.  Some limes are going to produce more juice than others; some limes will be sweet while others may be a bit over or under ripe.  While I'm all for using fresh products, using lime juice instead of lime adds some consistency to the recipe that most people can appreciate.  Why spend time making a drink, only to find out that it is inferior in quality as a result of a bad lime?

Also, superfine sugar, or regular sugar will provide a bit of grit that, when muddled, will produce more flavor from the mint leaves.  Powdered sugar just doesn't work in the same way.

The American Bar recipe tasted a little flat, and not particularly vibrant.  Lime is supposed to add citrusy goodness to the drink, and none of that was present in the American Bar Mojito.

On to the winner:

The Ultimate Bar Book recipe has a brighter, mintier, and sweeter flavor than the American Bar book recipe.  The sugar brought out more flavor from the mint leaves, providing a more complex and enjoyable taste that one should look for in a Mojito.  And it goes without saying, if the minty flavor isn't there, you're not going to love this drink.

One other difference between the recipes is that The Ultimate Bar Book calls for 2 to 4 ounces of club soda.  I have to hand it to the writer for at least putting in parameters when making this cocktail.  I went with 3 ounces, and it yielded great results.  American Bar, by comparison, just says "add soda."  Unfortunately, this tells me very little.  I appreciate the specificity of The Ultimate Bar Book recipe.

The Ultimate Bar Book Mojito

As a result of all of the above, I prefer The Ultimate Bar Book recipe. 

Just like the Caipirinha, I'm convinced that we keep coming back to these drinks, the Mojito included, ordering 2nds and 3rds because of the sweet sugar and lime combination that remains at the bottom of the glass.  It is delicious!

Laslty, and this is not a complaint against either recipe, but rather, a suggestion:  club soda should always, always be used sparingly.  Think of soda in the same way you think of salt when cooking. You can always add more salt, but you can't take it away. You can always add more soda, but you can't take it away. When a recipe calls for soda, add a splash to start, and no more. A splash may be all you need. If you prefer a lighter flavor or taste, perhaps add more. The point is, add in small increments, you'll be rewarded with a drink more to your liking.

Enjoy a Mojito in this beautiful weather - it's an easy choice on a warm day.

For more content, updates, random musings, and my attempts to be witty, check us out @IMakeDrinks on Twitter.


wibia on April 13, 2010 at 1:27 PM said...

Nice job here, I like the comparison idea. Powdered sugar in a drink doesn’t sound like a good idea to me, but what do I know. I like Mojitos in the warm months, so this is perfect timing.

Rob McFaul on April 13, 2010 at 3:10 PM said...

Good job. I love Mojito's and summer is coming. Can't wait to mix em both and see if I can concur with your findings.

Thanks for the info.


The Amateur Mixologist on April 15, 2010 at 12:57 PM said...

Thank you gents for your comments...Rob, be sure to report back when you've made them both (or an entirely different recipe altogether).

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