What Makes a Good Mojito?

By Eric Twardzik · 05/29/2020

The Mojito, once an icon of bad ‘90s cocktail culture, has been having something of a renaissance at Mariel. The downtown Cuban spot dedicates a full section of its drink menu to the cocktail, and its classic Mojito—dubbed Mariel—is ordered almost 500 times each day. Beverage director Sebastian Cañas credits two elements for the drink’s success.

“What kind of mint you use and what kind of rum you use are going to be the deciding factors between a good Mojito and a terrible Mojito,” he says.

Mariel relies on Freight Farms, a hydroponic shipping container farm based in Boston, to grow a strain of mint specifically for its Mojitos. For home bartenders, Cañas simply recommends buying the freshest mint possible and using the whole stem, which gives the drink a lush appearance and enhances its fresh flavor.

For rum, Cañas selected Plantation 3 Stars, which is made with rums sourced from Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica. He says that this non-charcoal-filtered white rum is the closest thing to Havana Club, the embargoed Cuban rum used to create the original generation of Mojitos.

Mariel serves the drink in what’s known as a “beer can glass,” which features a wider rim to better show off its overflowing mint garnish. If you’re making it at home, just substitute a highball glass.

Pro tip: To make crushed ice at home, simply fill a plastic bag with regular ice cubes and whack it with a rolling pin or another blunt object. Serious cocktail-makers can buy a wooden ice mallet from Boston Shaker for this purpose.

4 ounces soda water
2½ ounces Plantation 3 Stars Rum
¾ ounce lime juice
3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
4 mint sprigs
Dehydrated (or substitute fresh) lime wheel, for garnish

Add two mint sprigs and sugar to the bottom of a beer can (or highball) glass and stir to express the mint’s oils. Add soda water, then stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add rum and lime juice, stirring to combine, then fill glass to the rim with crushed ice. Garnish with remaining mint sprigs and lime wheel.

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