A Bartender's Guide to the Perfect Mojito
A site called Music & Mojitos would be remiss if it didn’t include some valuable information on how to identify the “perfect” mojito, no? While we are certainly fans of this Cuban cocktail and consider ourselves to be connoisseurs of New York City’s finest offerings, we are in no way professionals—which is why I turned to a professional bartender and mojito master, Massimo Maietto, for more information on this classic concoction.
“The history of the mojito is centuries old, dating back to the 1500s with the pirate Francis Drake. He and his crew used to drink a mixture called “El Draque.” This ancestor to the mojito was essentially high-proof rum, cane sugar, and lime, and was probably a very refreshing drink after attacking ships on the high seas,” Maietto chuckles. “The mojito as we know it today, however, was created by Angel Martinez in the early 20th century, at the ‘Bodeguita del Medio,’ a famous bar in the center of Havana, Cuba. Legend tells us that Ernest Hemingway used to regularly drink mojitos at the Bodeguita, but in actuality, he preferred to drink Daiquiris at the Floridita Bar, which was also in the center of Havana,” Maietto added.
The mojito recipe developed by Martinez at the Bodeguita differs significantly from its Sixteenth Century predecessor. The main ingredients found in mojitos today now includes white rum, lime, cane sugar, and most importantly, the addition of the now-quintessential Hierbabuena—special, fresh Cuban mint leaves.
So how do you craft the perfect mojito?
“Never, EVER muddle the mint leaves,” Maietto says. “When you muddle the leaves, you not only release the flavors and aromas of the mint, but also the bitter oils and acids within the leaf. This will cause your drink to taste excessively bitter,” he explains. The best approach is to “delicately mix the leaves” - or as James Bond might say, “Stirred, not muddled.”
And there you have it, folks - how to create the perfect mojito, straight from the bartender’s mouth.
Massimo lives in Florence, Italy and has worked at several luxury bars and cafes around the country. He is a certified sommelier and teaches several courses on wine, cocktails, and coffee in the Florence area. Follow Massimo on Instagram to learn more about his craft and to see pictures of his beautiful coffee and cocktail creations!