Raúl: The mojito is a classic drink in Cuba. It got its origin in the cane fields, where workers were provided with large barrels of sugarcane juice, what we call guarapo*, to drink after a hot day cutting sugarcane.
Glenn: On Saturday nights, the plantation owners would spike the guarapo with a little aguardiente, a crude form of rum; thus began a long tradition of Saturday night Cuban parties!
Jorge: As time went on, the workers began adding yerba buena, a type of mint leaf, to the barrel for flavor. Today the best mojitos are still made with this leaf. If you have a Latin market in your neighborhood, you might be able to find some. It has to be fresh!
Glenn: If not, use spearmint or peppermint—again fresh from the garden. They are the best substitutes.
Jorge: We've noticed lately that some trendy restaurants and bars have been serving a very dry mojito. The classic mojito should be very sweet!
3 teaspoons sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
Fresh yerba buena (or mint) leaves
1 ounce white rum
Put sugar and lime juice in a glass. Crush a few fresh mint leaves into the sugar and lime juice. Add rum and ice cubes. Fill with soda water and serve with a sprig of mint.
Guarapo is fresh sugarcane juice. It has a very light flavor (NOT super sweet like many people assume) and is extremely refreshing on a hot day. In fact, the sugar content of guarapo makes it just slightly sweeter than orange juice. Guarapo is really quite healthy and works better than Gatorade to get into your system quickly! Much of the guarapo sold in Miami is made from sugarcane grown in western Palm Beach County, southeast of Lake Okeechobee. The sweetest and most flavorful guarapo is available in winter when there is not as much rain.
Three Guys From Miami Cook Cuban
100 Great Cuban Recipes with a Touch of Miami Spice
by Glenn Lindgren, Raúl Musibay and Jorge Castillo
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
75 color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
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This page created December 2004
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