Mojito: Recipe and Ingredients | Giovanni Ceccarelli

Mojito Recipe: ingredients and preparation technique

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In this article we’ll be discussing the recipe for making a Mojito and preparation methods, with particular attention to the ingredients. Discover how to properly prepare the most famous and disputed drink in the World.

I say disputed because you will no doubt have discussed either with a customer, the bar owner or your colleagues about the best way to prepare it. Do you use raw cane sugar or white sugar? Should the lime be squeezed or muddled? Should the ice be whole or crushed? And above all: do you need Yerba Buena to make a good Mojito? (Without anyone actually knowing what Yerba Buena is.)

The discussion often gets quite heated, neither of the two discussing the issue can convince the other, and it’s not unusual to hear statements like “I have a Cuban friend who explained to me how to prepare the REAL Mojito’, as if being a Cuban is a sufficient reason for knowing how to make an exceptional Mojito. Personally, I believe that the only professional thing to do is to study and know the ingredients and their characteristics in-depth, so you can use them to your advantage and help you achieve the desired result. Scientific knowledge has become, rightly so, a fundamental part of the mixing industry and allows you to create unmatched drinks.

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The Mojito is a refreshing, low in alcohol content and slightly sparkling drink.

Mojito being prepared at the Bodeguita del Medio, Cuba.


Mojito being prepared at the Bodeguita del Medio, Cuba.

Ingredients

  • 3cl of lemon juice
  • 2 bar spoons of white sugar
  • 2 mint sprigs (only the part that has leaves, discard the rest)
  • 5cl of cuban ron (Havana 3)
  • ice cubes (fill the glass)
  • very cold sparkling water;

Directions

How do you prepare a great Mojito?

In a glass with capacity ranging between 35 and 39cl, squeeze 2cl of lime juice (about half a lime) with a lime squeezer or, if you don’t have one, with a citrus squeezer. It is preferable to use only the lime’s juice, better if squeezed on the spot. The reason being that the lime’s juice is needed to give the drink acidity (thus freshness), whereas crushing the lime (as long as it’s done properly) extracts the lime peel oils as well and will give the drink an aromatic complexity, risking to dominate the mint’s oils, which are much more delicate and difficult to extract (if you must insist on using the peel’s aroma I recommend using oleo saccharum). If you squeeze the lime in advance and want to preserve it as best as possible, click here to read my preservation tips.

Add two bar spoons of white sugar. This ingredient is needed to sweeten, or rather mitigate the lime’s acidity and not to aromatize the drink like partially refined (raw) cane sugar would, which, with its molasses flavor, could cover the delicate mint aromas. Raw cane sugar eliminates freshness! You can use both white cane sugar and white beet sugar because they are the same thing: pure sucrose (if you don’t believe it, read my article by clicking here).

Choosing the right mint is very important. The mint used in Cuba, commonly known as Yerba Buena, is Mentha x Villosa var. nemorosa. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to find (but not impossible!) and to recognize, because there are thousands of mint species and many of them resemble each other. Fortunately we don’t have to worry too much because there are alternatives available. To find out which mint to choose click here. From a technical point of view it is crucial not to crush the mint, unless you are trying to make pesto Genovese (italian pasta sauce whit basil). Essential oils are contained in the glandular trichomes, which are found on the lower side of the leaf: crushing serves no purpose, just muddle it slightly with the bar spoon!

Add ron and then massage the mint, before adding ice.


Add ron and then massage the mint, before adding ice.

After dissolving the sugar in the lime juice (sugar does not dissolve well in alcohol, you may wish to add a drop of soda) add the mint and cuban ron and, with the back of the bar spoon, gently muddle the mint against the walls of the glass. It is important to work the mint in the rum because the essential oils (see carvone) are soluble in alcohol yet not very soluble in water. If you add ice first, you won’t be able to work the mint in the spirit and the flavouring will be very bland.

Mix gently from bottom to top.


Mix gently from bottom to top.

Another sour note is the ice. Starting from the assumption that every ingredient (and ice is an ingredient) has its own function, it is easy to understand that you should use whole ice! Mojito is a drink that doesn’t need to be diluted because it already contains a lot of soda (sparkling water) so it is useless to use crushed ice. In addition, the crushed (or cracked) ice has an upper surface (with equal mass) and causes greater CO2 leak: as a result, we will end up making a watered down and non-sparkling drink.

Soda is nothing more than sparkling water. In order to maintain this feature in the Mojito I recommend using it quite cold (reverse solubility, find out more here) and pour it gently into the drink.

I hope this article and its insights were of help to you. I’d like to conclude by saying that it is not said, at all, that a Mojito prepared in this way can please everyone, even though this is the best way to work the ingredients and it’s the traditional Cuban preparation method. The taste remains subjective; nevertheless, in order to avoid confusion, it’s worth highlighting that this is THE Mojito, the others are variants.

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