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    Grand prix / Cocktail recipes

    Bring back the excitement into the Mojito

    | By François Monti

    The great Caballito del Professore, AKA the Mojito as seen by the fine people at the Jerry Thomas Project

    Recipes that show how small changes can give new life to a classic you’re bored (but really shouldn’t be) with.

    Let’s start with stating what should be obvious: the Mojito, made the Cuban way, is a fantastic drink. Rum, lime, mint, sugar in a short glass over cracked ice make for a bracing aperitif. This is not the way it is now known in Europe, where crushed ice and tall glasses dominate. This version has, sadly, led some great bartenders away from the wonders of one of the quintessential Cuban cocktails, and we’re sad to see that some bars try not to serve the Mojito to customers. Obviously, at Havana Cocteles, we understand that craft bartenders prefer to push their clients towards their own drinks, but we kept our eyes open and we talked to great bartenders to check how they made their Mojitos more exciting. What follows are two great ideas, the first in, we hope, quite a series.

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    Caballito del Professore

    The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy in Rome is one of the finest drinking dens of the world. The small space is packed every day of the week and clients get to sample fabulous drinks, among which a selection of classic Cuban cocktails. One of them caught our attention: the Caballito del Professore. Apparently, the Caballito was first served at Sloppy Joe’s in the late 1930’s. It was a Mojito with French vermouth and, as garnish, a lime horse’s neck (hence the name: caballito means ‘little horse’). The 1948 Club de Cantineros bar book had the Caballito served up, dropped the soda and called for equal parts Italian vermouth and rum. So what did the good folks at Jerry Thomas do? They mixed both concepts: they dropped the soda but they kept the rum as the main ingredient. They also added their very own Bergamot Bitters and a float of their delightful Vermouth del Professore. More herbal and stronger than your classical Mojito, it’s a fantastic success. But, as our friends in Rome are quick to point out, “if the client is adamant he wants a normal Mojito, we’ll make it for him”. And we’re pretty sure it’d be the best in town.

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    Charly’s Mojito

    When Carlos Moreno, one of Spain’s best bartenders, opened Charly’s last year in Madrid, he decided to give free rein to his passion for what he calls ‘trucado’ (rigged) cocktails. Not exactly twists, the ‘trucados’ look like what you expect them to look like but once you taste them you realize something’s going on. With its warm weather and Latin soul, Madrid needs its Mojitos and Carlos provides them. Two things, though, transform the experience. Instead of caster sugar he uses basil sugar: a kilo of sugar and 35 basil leaves are toasted in the oven and then grinded with a food processor. The second addition is 10 ml of Pedro Ximenez. It’s a subtle and intensely aromatic twist that works wonderfully. To our knowledge, no one at Charly’s ever complained upon discovering the Mojito, trucado style.

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    The recipes hereunder show how small changes can give new life to a classic you’re bored (but really shouldn’t be) with. We’re looking forward to discovering your own takes on this great Cuban classic, at the 2014 Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix or in your bars.

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    Caballito del Professore

    5 mint leaves
    15 ml lime
    10 ml sugar syrup 2:1
    2 dashes Bergamot Bitter's
    50 ml Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
    Top with Vermouth del Professore

    Build in Old Fashioned glass, top with vermouth and garnish with mint, lime shell and powdered sugar.

     

    Charly’s Mojito

    13 mint leaves
    4 lime wedges
    50 ml Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
    10 ml Pedro Ximenez Sherry
    2 spoons of basil sugar
    Top with Soda 

    Muddle mint, basil sugar and wedges in tall glass, fill with crushed ice, add rum and PX. Stir. Top with soda. Add crushed ice if necessary and garnish with sprig of mint and powdered sugar.

    The Mojito, 'trucado' style at Charly's, in Madrid.

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