When it comes to travelling, we can rarely say no to a local cocktail – especially if it just so happens to be one of our all-time favourites, the mojito. Fresh, minty, cool and with just the right kick, the tropical drink is always our go to when we’re relaxing on an island, atop a patio in South America or even poolside in Toronto. Lucky for us, we found the best mojito in our home city of Toronto on the large DEQ patio at the RitzCarlton Toronto. And even luckier are we that they shared their to-die-for recipe and a bit of history about our favourite cocktail with us. Assistant Director of Food and Beverage, Arjun Gopi and Lead Bartender, Courtney Messam gives us the low-down on the mojito (plus their recipe so you can test out yourself!).
Mojito = The Perfect Summer Drink
“The mint and lime combination is amongst the most refreshing you will find, add to that the sweetness of cane rum and we have a perfect summer cocktail!” says Gopi.
The Humble Mojito Origins
As with most cocktails, there’s a bit of folklore that surrounds the history of this tasty drink. But both involve Sir Francis Drake and Cuba. “The name mojito comes from the African word Mojo which means to cast a spell,” explains Gopi. There are two contrasting stories of the mojito, the first is of Sir Francis Drake’s crew in the 1500s creating the drink as a medicine during their unsuccessful invasion of Cuba. And the second is that farmers working the sugarcane farms in Cuba putt together crude rum with sugarcane juice, mint and lime to make it go down easier on hot summer days. The addition of club soda happened later when the drink was introduced to Europeans.”
The Secret to An Amazing Mojito
“The secret to the mojito lies in the proportions and the quality of the ingredients and the skill of the bartender,” says Gopi. “The acidity of the limes, the sweetness of the sugarcane and the freshness of the mint have to be balanced just right to help the rum come through and yet make for a refreshing summer beverage. Some people over muddle the mint and limes causing it to give off its greener bitter flavors which are not good for the drink. Ideally the mint should only be ‘clapped’ into the drink to release the oils and aromas in the leaves.”
All About the Rum
“Light tum is the traditional way to go,” explains Gopi. “But a gold rum in the drink or even a splash of dark rum as a floater can add nice complexity especially if you are working with sugar cane juice as the sweetener as it will bring out the roots of the rum.”
The Best Mojito at Home
“Start with a good bottle of white rum, fresh mint, juicy limes and sugarcane sticks if you find,” says Gopi. “Muddle the limes in quarters with the rum and sugar. I like to use brown sugar for an extra flavor profile. Take care to not over muddle the limes. The mint should only be ‘clapped’ into the drink to release the oils and aromas in the leaves before the ice is added. Top off with club soda and give it a good stir – garnish with a few sprigs of mint for an extra bit of freshness.”
The Perfect Balance
“You need to prefect your recipe so it creates a balanced cocktail,” says cocktail pro Messam. “Using crushed ice really helps the speed at which it melts and is naturally watered down.”
The Ritz-Carlton Toronto Mojito Recipe
1 oz rum
1 oz syrup
6-8 mint leaves
½ lime, cut in wedges
3-4 oz soda
Add syrup, rum, mint and lime to glass, muddle. Fill with crushed ice. Top of with soda. Garnish with a bouquet of fresh mint, a wedge of lime and a stick of sugar cane.